Meet Our Dedicated Staff
Jolene Yang, School Counselor
I was born in Laos and am the oldest of 11 children. My family immigrated to the United States in 1979. We were sponsored by a wonderful family in Wilmette, Illinois where we lived until 1981 and then later settled in Wisconsin.
I graduated from Wausau West High School in 1992. From there, I was accepted into the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point where I graduated with a Bachelor in Communications in 1996. It was at that point in time that I found my passion in life, school counseling. In 1998, I earned my Masters in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
In 1991, I met my husband and we have been together ever since. We have three beautiful children ages 15, 6 1/2 and 5. We’ve lived in MN for 11 years now. We enjoy archery, camping, and fishing. In my limited free time I enjoy reading, watching Korean dramas, shopping, and spending quality time with my family.
Professionally, I’ve been with the St. Paul Public School District for 10 years and 18 years in the School Counseling field. The majority of my career has been at the elementary level. For a few years, I was a PBIS district coach. This is my fourth year with Open World Learning Community and counseling at the secondary level. It has been a great experience getting to know the school, students and parents. I look forward to continuing my job as Open’s school counselor.
Mary Sellers, School Assessment Coordinator & Family Engagement Coordinator
I grew up in a new suburb north of Philadelphia, with my parents, 2 older brothers, and 3 younger sisters.
I majored in theater in at Marlboro College in Vermont, a small liberal arts college. The summer after graduation, I directed and acted in a children’s street theater program, performing daily next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. That was where I met my husband, Craig. We relocated to Minnesota 3 years later.
Our son Brian was born in 1983, and our daughter Sierra, in 1986, and being their mother has been my greatest pleasure.
I have been part of the Open School community for 30 years, ever since a serendipitous playground conversation with another parent led me to enroll Brian in kindergarten, back when it was a K-12 school. Both of my children attended OWL for 13 years, and I volunteered at Open much of that time. The experiences and relationships my children developed at Open School helped to shape the people they have become.
I’ve worked in education with diverse student populations for about 30 years, first in Philadelphia as a preschool teacher, later in Saint Paul as an outreach worker for ECFE, then on a family involvement team at Phalen Lake Hmong Studies Magnet for19 years. My work with families has been enormously rewarding and the relationships I’ve developed have been lasting. Time and again I have seen that all parents want their children’s lives to be better than their own, and that partnering to build on family strengths benefits students more than any other intervention. I never cease to be amazed by the resilience of my families who continue to be my greatest teachers.
For the past 2 years, I have been at OWL in a dual role as Family Involvement Coordinator and Testing Coordinator. I am grateful for the supportive team I am part of, and for the patience of our students, families, and staff as I learn about testing coordination and counseling support.
As part of the counseling team, I take great pleasure in bringing new students and their families into the OWL community. I also enjoy working with seniors as they chart a course for the next stage of their lives. It feels like I have come full circle from working with preschoolers to graduating seniors.
I welcome parent suggestions about how we can improve our family involvement program or become more supportive as you navigate the terrain of adolescence and beyond. Families are always welcome to stop to visit in the Family Room across from Jolene’s office anytime for tea and support.