Northern Lights Community School
Board of Directors
P.O. Box 2829Warba, MN 55793
(218) 492-4400 Toll Free (877) 246-6548 Fax (218) 492-4402
Next election date: October 2018
Mike Hamernick, NLCS Director
Becky McCauley, Business Manager
Aaron Leisen, Financial Consultant
|Karen Fleming||Board Chair||Teacher||10/2013||10/2019|
|Don Vidal||Vice Chair||Teacher||10/2013||10/2019|
|Art Norton||Community Member||10/2017||10/2020|
No board member is related to another board member
Board Schedule 2018-2019 School Year
Karen grew up in Alaska and moved to Minnesota with her husband Neil, and two sons, Jason and Travis in 1991. She began working in education as a paraprofessional at an alternative program (MALC) in Grand Rapids. In 2000 Karen earned her Associates Degree at Itasca Community College, and Bachelor of Science Degree in 2002 from Bemidji State University. Karen is one of the co-founders of Northern Lights Community School. The concept for the school began in 2001 while she was working at the Middle Area Learning Center in Grand Rapids. Before NLCS, she taught middle school Language Arts at the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school on the Leech Lake Reservation.
One of Karen’s favorite parts of her job is leading groups of high school students through Europe as they experience real world learning. The freedom to be creative and the ability to know each student well, are two of her most important advantages to working at NLCS. She also enjoys camping, geocaching, and writing.
Growing up on the east side of St. Paul, Don’s first musical encounters were at the young age of 7 when he began taking organ lessons from longtime Twin Cities Polka aficionado and musician, Ed Lewendowski. At age 8 he began singing in his church choir under the direction of Robert Kaiser, giving him the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and sing on the Musical Heritage Society’s album, Benjamin Britten’s, “Mass of Saint Nicolas.”
After grade school Don continued to perform music playing saxophone in the high school band. He then joined the U.S. Army. Upon arrival in Anchorage, AK, Don was accepted into the 176th Light Infantry Brigade Band where he played lead alto saxophone. The band performed music at civilian and military functions throughout the state. He was awarded the Alaska Gold Pan Award, for loyalty, devotion and contributions to the Band.
When he was discharge from the Army, Don joined the Minnesota National Guard spending time serving with the 136th Mechanized Infantry out of Bemidji and the 47th infantry Brigade Band (The Governors’ Own) in St. Paul, MN. The highlight being a trip to Vaxho, Sweden, where the band, the first uniformed American Military Personnel in Sweden since WWII marched in the Vaxho Military Tattoo, performed for Minnesota Days and attended the first European exhibition pro football game in history between the Vikings and the Bears.
Don attended Bemidji State University where he studied saxophone under Dr. Steve Konecne. While attending BSU he was a three time recipient of the Joe Plumer memorial Jazz Scholarship. Graduating cum laude in 1991 with a degree in Music Education.
He has had the opportunity to perform with talented artists and bands such as Captain Jack McDuff, Willie Murphy, Jim Miller, Spider John Koerner, Bill and Judy Hinckley, Richard Street of the Temptations, Frank Mantooth, Wayne Newton, Big John Dickerson and Downright Tight, Prudence Johnson, Renee’ Austin, Frankie Avalon, Booka Michel, Carl Michel, R.C. Banks, Bobby Rydell, Dick King Classic Swing Band, Tommy Dorsey Big Band, Blew Monday, 5 on the 4, Conga Se Menne, Mr. Pumpkinhead, Ruby Sky, Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club, The Incredible Ides, The Cab Calloway Orchestra directed by C. Calloway Brooks, Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants, Annie Humphrey, Ginger Commodore, Gary Hines, Greg Kaczor, Jimmy Thackery and of course NLCS staff Matt Alleva and Annie Humphrey.
In this spare time Don volunteers for the M.S. Society and as an on air host for KAXE 91.7 FM, a community radio station where he has programmed many shows and interviewed over 28 jazz and blues artists. For this he received the Bill McKeever Award for creativity and excellence in on air artistry. Don also keeps busy recording in his studio, Mr. Pumpkinhead Productions. With regards to “Some Of These Days,” an album Don recorded and played on with Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club, the January 2008 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine states, “Sammo joins forces with Don Vidal, an experienced reedman who’s been around the block a few times. Together they’ve crafted a stellar collection of classics reborn with stylish playing and eloquent solos. Vidal moves between soprano, alto, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet on his arrangement of Duke Ellington’s ‘The Mooch.'”
Don has been teaching music at Northern Lights Community School for the last seven years and has been quoted as saying ” I enjoy performing music with my students as much, if not more than some of best in the music business and sometimes I learn more from my students”. In his spare time he enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Treasurer/Special Ed. Teacher
Before joining NLCS I worked for many years as a wilderness educator in California, Minnesota, Maine, and Wisconsin. I enjoy spending my time outdoors climbing, hiking, cross country skiing, and canoeing. I received my Bachelors degree at St Cloud State University in Community Psychology, my Masters Degree in Experiential Education at Mankato State University and my Special Education license at Bethel University. I have previously taught for 4 years at a project based charter school in the Twin Cities, and this is my second year at NLCS as a Special Education teacher. I enjoy working at NLCS because of the flexibility our program gives for both students and teachers, and the small community we have that helps foster strong relationships with students and parents. I live in on the St Louis River in Floodwood with my 2 dogs, 15 chickens, 5 guinea hens, and my partner Mike.
Photo & info coming soon
From 2005-2012, Art was the Itasca Field representative for The Nature Conservancy, working for the Minnesota Forest Legacy partnership. Before that, he worked for 15 years as the Itasca County Soil and Water Conservation District manager and Itasca County water plan coordinator.
Art received a master’s degree in glacial landscape geology from the University of Minnesota,
Duluth in 1983. He enjoyed working as a geologist in northern Minnesota during the 1980s.
He and his wife have lived off the grid with solar electric power since 1982 on a small farm close to Warba. Now that they are retired, they have turned their attention from raising sheep and children, to managing their 60 acre woodlot. Art enjoys working with people of all ages to explore ways to increase our connections to the natural world and to increase stewardship of the land.