Contact Information

Heather  Lindstrom
Heather  Lindstrom

Heather Gorath Lindstrom

Special Education Teacher at Minnesota Department of Human Services

625 Robert St. North Ste. 700, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
(651) 539-1100

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General Information

Work Experience

Company Information

Minnesota Department of Human Services


625 Robert St. North Ste. 700

Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55155

United States

Company Description

Currently, the Minnesota Department of Human Services through infrastructure grants provides over $4.7 million to support school-based and school-linked mental health services. Four hundred schools across 45 counties currently have such arrangements....More

Recent News

FAIRMONT - Heather Gorath Lindstrom teaches in a classroom behind bars.  Lindstrom, the daughter of Harlan and Larainne Gorath of Fairmont, is a special education teacher working for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. Most of her students range in age from 18-21 and are incarcerated at facilities in Oak Park Heights, Stillwater and Lino Lakes. "A lot of the stuff that these kids are manifesting is rooted in mental health concerns," Lindstrom said. "There's a reason people act like they do. Once you figure out that reason, you can manage behavior." Lindstrom traveled a circuitous route to her current post, and while she takes her job very seriously, her sense of humor is always at the forefront. After graduating from Fairmont High School in 1986, she attended Gustavus Adolphus College for a semester and took a short break before enrolling at Mankato State University, where she earned a degree in secondary education social studies in 1990. "My plan was to teach world history and British history at a private school somewhere. Two hundred resumes later, I was working in retail," she said, laughing as she recalled that time in her life. Although she wasn't teaching, she was doing volunteer work with kids that she calls "beyond risk," young people whose actions surpassed being described as high risk. "I enjoyed that," she said. "It was a challenge, and it was interesting." Lindstrom went on to get her master's degree in chemical dependency counseling with an emphasis on mental health and rehabilitation, returning to MSU because "they already had a good chunk of my money." That was in 1994. Lindstrom had just gotten married, and she and her husband moved to Appalachia, an economically-challenged area where President Lyndon Johnson had kicked off his War on Poverty. "I learned a lot there, especially that I liked Minnesota," Lindstrom said. The couple moved back to Minnesota, and she began working in special education and also doing a lot of dependency counseling, working as a community expert for school districts. "I discovered when you're on community expert status, you get cut pretty quick," she said. She obtained her special education license and started working with teens, specifically seven freshmen and sophomore boys. "Their teachers didn't know what to do with them so I taught all their subjects all day long. I absolutely loved it," she said. "Once the kids realize you're there and you're going to show up, that you're not going to put up with their stuff, that this is about learning and what they can really achieve, they do." "I knew from that point on that it was really what I wanted to do." With a desire to get away from the Metro area, the couple moved to Red Wing where Lindstrom landed a job with the Minnesota Department of Corrections. She taught in the facility there for seven years, instructing incarcerated individuals who had been removed from the general population because of behavior. "Education came to them, and that was me," she said. She left the DOC to work with the Department of Education, monitoring compliance of special education programs in care and treatment facilities. She worked her way up to a supervisory position but missed working with children and families. A friend from Red Wing encouraged her to return to teaching for the DOC. In July, she did. "I'm now working with guys in their 20s," Lindstrom said. Everybody has the right to an education, and to me, that means all," Lindstrom said, admitting that some would argue that incarcerated people don't deserve it. Lindstrom said being raised in Fairmont instilled a strong commitment to community service. "Both my parents stressed community service and helping others, and this was reinforced in school," she said. "While I no longer live in Fairmont, I try to reinforce the idea of serving the community by working with incarcerated men from all across the state. My job gives me a great opportunity serve the state, and I am lucky to have it and happy to give back in the small way that I do." Lindstrom also does consulting work and serves as an adjunct teacher at Augsburg College, meaning she teaches "whatever they give me." As the single mother of a 13-year-old daughter, free time is rare, but Lindstrom enjoys watching roller derby competitions and exercising. "I ran my first 5K this summer," she said. "It was ugly, but it got done." Lindstrom is also continuing her own education. She is midway through her doctorate program and, pending approval of her dissertation work, will be starting research into the impact on teachers who work with students that have been traumatized. "You hear a lot about what kids go through, but not what teachers go through," she said. She hopes to finish her doctorate work by 2017.

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Additional Contacts at Minnesota Department of Human Services

Susan KretchmerInformation 5 Technology Specialist
Danielle BeanManager, Claims, Provider Enrollment & Operations Data Integrity
Paul BlonskiIT Specialist
James JasperHuman Services Prog 1 Representative
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