Courtney Seiler, Supervisor of Elementary Teaching & Learning, Moorhead Public School District

Written by: Brady Drake

Tell us about yourself.

At home I’m a wife and mom; at work, I’m a district administrator. In both of my roles, I strive to stay true to my core values of integrity, compassion and accountability. My husband and I have a three-year-old daughter who is the light of our lives.

I grew up in a small town in ND, went to college at NDSU and then earned my Master’s degree from UND. I’ve taught HeadStart (PreK), Adult Basic Ed reading courses and middle and high school social studies courses. I was also a PreK-12 grade principal for a few years and a professional learning specialist before joining the Moorhead Teaching and Learning department.

This is my 13th year in education. I know it’s cliche, but I’ve been answering this question the same for more than 13 years. I’m in public education to do my part to change the world. My most recent challenge is to learn all there is to know about how humans learn to read, and support teachers in implementing the most effective instructional practices and curriculum to develop strong readers. There’s no doubt that the benefits of being a skilled reader are countless. Every kid deserves to be a strong reader and [I] need to do my part to make that happen.

Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why?

The women in my life are my heroes. My mom has shown me how to overcome life’s most difficult obstacles. My maternal grandmother taught me that working hard is part of life. My paternal grandma showed me how to love and respect everyone; I never heard her say a bad word about anyone. My sisters have taught me what true friendship is.

What are some important lessons you have learned in your lifetime?

My dad died of cancer when I was 15. It seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. I’ll spare the details, but after 20 years the trauma still shows up in strange, unexpected ways. The painful memories came back layered with an adult view of the trauma this month when we lost my dad’s brother, my Uncle Jerry, to the same cancer as my dad. Life is precious and short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.

What are some of your favorite things to do in our community?

I love our thriving community! Shout out to the Fargo Mom’s social media presence! They always highlight the events going on in the community for families. Some of my favorites include the Rustad Rec indoor playground, the mall play place, the beautiful parks and walking paths.

What is your dream job and why?

My dream job is one that challenges me while also providing small successes along the journey to an ultimate goal. It’s waking up excited for another day and enjoying many laughs with crazy colleagues. And most importantly, it has purpose and serves the community. Lucky for me, this is my current reality.

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for our readers?

Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead was so influential for me! Her real-life scenarios about leading a team really spoke to me. I love her down-to-earth writing styles and how she weaves human psychology throughout the book. I highly recommend it!

What are you hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program?

I’m looking forward to networking with other young female leaders in the community. I’m also excited to be involved in volunteer opportunities and learn more about myself and how to be the best leader I can be.

What do you think can be improved in our community?

I think we could do a better job of representing the beautiful racial and linguistic diversity of our community publicly. I think we could represent our population better on billboards, in magazines, advertisements in stores, the mall, workout facilities, churches, etc. Simple representation is the first step in helping everyone feel welcome.

What are some of your passions outside of work?

Being a mom is my number one passion outside of work. Since parenting doesn’t come with training or a handbook, learning about how to be the best mom I can be is certainly my passion and priority. I also have a passion for equity and inclusion work. I’m early into my personal journey of learning about racial injustice but it’s my life mission to learn all I can in order to help stop racism.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.