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Hall of Fame - Class of 2024

Michael Dornseif

Throughout his tenure at Forest Lake Area Schools, Michael Dornseif wore many hats, leaving an indelible mark on the community. Serving as the Youth Development Coordinator, Service Learning Coordinator, coach, advisor, and parent volunteer, Michael's dedication to students was unmatched.

His most notable contribution was the creation of the Forest Lake Alternative Learning Center (now called the Community School), born from his recognition of the need to support students struggling in traditional classrooms. Through diligent research and advocacy, Michael spearheaded the program's inception in November 1989. Over the years, it evolved to include Targeted Services, summer school, and Guided Studies/Credit Recovery, impacting thousands of students.

Michael's day-to-day involvement built strong relationships with both staff and students. His retirement saw him relocating to Florida, where tragedy struck when Hurricane Ian destroyed his home in 2022. The outpouring of support from former students, staff, and parents helped him rebuild his life.

Sadly, Michael passed away unexpectedly in May 2023, leaving behind a legacy of innovation, compassion, and community advocacy. His vision lives on in the success of the students who have benefited from the Community School over the past 35 years. Michael Dornseif's impact continues to inspire those he supported, embodying the spirit of care and dedication.
 

Nicole Finnemann

Nicole Finnemann's journey from Forest Lake Area High School to the global stage is one of extraordinary achievement and service. Graduating at the top of her class in 1999, Nicole's senior year was a whirlwind of accomplishments. From studying abroad in Spain to excelling in soccer and starring in the school play, she demonstrated a remarkable range of talents. Her leadership roles in student council, Youth Service Bureau, and as class commencement speaker showcased her commitment to service and advocacy.

During college, Nicole continued to make her mark, playing soccer and teaching abroad in Ecuador, where she discovered her passion for public service. This passion led her to a career as a U.S. diplomat, where she has lived and worked in ten countries across five continents.

In her role as a diplomat, Nicole has represented the United States in some of the world's most challenging environments, including multiple war zones, including places like Afghanistan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Her down-to-earth Forest Lake upbringing has been her diplomatic superpower, allowing her to navigate complex relationships with grace and resilience.

Nicole's strategic and innovative approach to media engagement under authoritarian regimes and during violent crises has been recognized by the State Department. She has played key roles in major White House initiatives and summits, earning accolades for her exceptional service.

Nicole Finnemann's journey from Forest Lake to global diplomacy is a testament to her dedication, courage, and unwavering commitment to serving others.
 

Diane Giorgi

Diane Giorgi's journey at Forest Lake Area Schools was marked by tireless dedication and transformative leadership. Beginning her career as an elementary school teacher at Lino Lakes Elementary, Diane quickly distinguished herself as a visionary educator with a passion for integrating technology into the classroom. As one of the original technology mentors and integration teachers in the late 1990s, Diane pioneered the implementation of cutting-edge technology tools, igniting the passions of her students and colleagues alike.

When Lino Lakes Elementary transitioned into a STEM-focused school, Diane's leadership was instrumental. She played a key role in designing and rebranding the school, and her popular STEM-focused days provided a springboard for many students pursuing STEM fields after graduation.

Transitioning to the Teaching & Learning department, Diane's impact continued to grow. She led the rewriting of the district's q-comp plan, which gained over 90% approval from teachers and unanimous approval from the school board. Diane played a pivotal role in securing voter approval for the 2018 Levy. As Director of Teaching & Learning, she was able to restructure the department to include instructional and literacy coaches.

Diane's forward-thinking approach was particularly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, as she led the implementation of a unified learning management system and developed e-learning plans to ensure continuity of education.

Throughout her career, Diane's inviting personality and steadfast leadership have earned her the respect and admiration of students and colleagues alike, leaving an enduring legacy of excellence at Forest Lake Area Schools.
 

Dr. Jamie Hestekin
Dr. Jamie Hestekin, a 1991 graduate of Forest Lake High School, has dedicated his life to scientific innovation and education. Excelling in science and math as a student, Jamie pursued Chemical Engineering, driven by a desire to make a difference in the world. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, followed by a doctorate from the University of Kentucky Lexington and a Post Doctorate at Argonne National Laboratory. Currently, he serves as a Professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where he mentors doctoral and research students.

Jamie's groundbreaking research has earned him numerous awards. His passion for solving global challenges is evident in his work, where he seeks innovative solutions to real-world problems. Jamie's education at Forest Lake High School set him on a path of innovation, leading to many important discoveries.

One of Jamie's current projects involves developing an artificial kidney that could revolutionize medical care for people with kidney diseases. Together with his wife Christa, Jamie is part of a team dedicated to this transformative endeavor.

Beyond his career in chemical engineering, Jamie excels in mentoring future scientists. His work inspires students to pursue ambitious goals, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation. Jamie Hestekin's legacy is not just in his scientific achievements, but in his dedication to shaping the next generation of thinkers and problem solvers.