The mission of the primary level program is to provide an experiential learning setting where culturally diverse learners will find academic success.

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Primary Level Program

The primary level program takes 1st and 2nd grade learners where they are, holistically assess the needs of each learner and provide educational opportunities that facilitates individual academic success.


The elementary school program is committed to the fact that primary level learners have developmental, academic, and social needs specific to their age. Achieve's primary level learning environment addresses a variety of learning styles with an emphasis on experiential activities.



The three major student goals of our team are the following:

  1. Focus on individual learner strengths and needs

  2. Develop literacy skills and mathematical thinking

  3. Build a responsive classroom community


A child's LIFE is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.

Chinese Proverb

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1st and 2nd Grade Staff

Denise Vernstrom

2nd Grade Teacher



Welcome. I am married and live in Maplewood. I am the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 4 grandsons. I worked as a retail manager at both Target and Kohl's before becoming a teacher.

My passion for teaching literacy began in 2001 while on a humanitarian trips to Uganda. I have had the opportunity to visit and teach in schools in both Uganda and India. I decided to follow my dream and enrolled in college in 2012 and then graduated from Concordia University in 2015.

I taught sixth grade math for 1 year at Achieve and am currently teaching second grade. I LOVE teaching the students at Achieve. I am so glad that I decided to pursue my dream and became a teacher.

Heather Gorman

1st Grade Teacher



Hello! This is my first year at Achieve and I am very excited to join the amazing team here. I received my bachelors degree from Winona State University, then attended Concordia University for my Masters in Education and teaching license. I also had the pleasure to student teach at Achieve in the Sprint of 2019! Prior to my time here, I was the coordinator for a K-8 after school and summer program.

I love teaching children to be lifelong learners in and out of the classroom. I also enjoy teaching children how to form a love for reading.

When I am not teaching, my husband and I enjoy spending time with family and friends. We are also big MN sports fans and enjoy exploring all that Minnesota has to offer.

Ka Yang

1st Grade Teacher



I love working here at Achieve because I've always wanted to serve the people and community that I grew up in. I enjoy spending time with family and friends watching movies, playing games, going to musicals, and traveling. Also, I'm a huge football fan so you'll always catch me cheering on the Vikings.

Kristen Mandt

2nd Grade Teacher



Welcome to Second Grade! My name is Kristen Mandt and I am so excited to be teaching 2nd grade here at Achieve Language Academy. I have been a teacher for over 20 years and have taught in a variety of settings, primarily working with students who are English Language Learners. I have a Master's Degree and an additional license in teaching Reading from Hamline University.

I have a 2 year old daughter named Ella, and we live in St. Paul not far from Achieve! We love to play outside with neighbor friends, go to the playground, and sing and dance all the time.

I'm looking forward to meeting each one of you and spending the school year together.