The Rails Endowment for Academic, Art and Athletic Development (REA3D) is Proctor’s Area Educational Foundation. REA3D was established in 1996 to support life-enriching academic, art and athletic activities which cannot rely on traditional educational funding and is designed to serve learners of all ages within Proctor School District communities. It reaches these goals by holding fundraising activities and dispersing funds through bi-annual grant awards. (See Grants in Action)
The REA3D Board of Directors includes up to 15 members and meets monthly excluding the months of June and July. New members are considered when there is a vacant seat. For information on how to apply for membership, please check out the links below:
REA3D’s major fundraising activities include the annual ISD 704 Staff Drive, bi-annual mailings, online giving options, and special events such as the Fall Tasting Event and the Winter REA3D by Candlelight Dinner. All direct contributions to REA3D are tax-deductible and can be made by visiting the Donate page. REA3D also offers a Leave A Legacy Initiative, which helps those considering to arrange for a REA3D gift within their estate planning.
The REA3D Board of Directors considers grant applications for up to $1,000 and awards grants twice annually, in October and January. You can learn more about the REA3D grant application process by visiting the Grants page, and clicking on the Grant Application option.
Board of Directors Membership 2020-21
Sherm Carlson, President
Sherm Carlson is a 1965 graduate of Denfeld High and is a resident of Hermantown, MN, having served on its school board for more than 10 years. His post-high school degrees include a B.A from St. Olaf College and graduate degrees in teaching and educational administration from the University of Wisconsin, Superior. Mr. Carlson began his teaching career at Proctor High School in 1971 and ultimately served in all administrative positions within the district, retiring as superintendent in 2004. He is a Vietnam veteran where he served in-country as an U.S. Army journalist. He is passionate in supporting creative initiatives by teachers, staff, and students, along with Proctor and its neighboring cities and townships. Sherm currently serves as REA3D president. Sherm joined the REA3D Board in 2000.
Barbara Steen, Vice President
Barbara Steen taught art and English in the Proctor Public Schools for nearly 35 years before retiring in June of 2014. She holds a BFA in Art Education, a BS in English/ Language Arts and a master’s degree in Education. During her teaching years, Barbara advised a number of extra-curricular groups, including Competitive Speech, Rowdy Rails, and Art Odyssey. Her passion has always been working with and guiding young people to strive for excellence and to discover their creativity. She feels fortunate to have had such an amazing experience with Proctor students, parents, and staff. Barbara continues to work with young people and has recently taught elementary students in a summer art program. REA3D is a vehicle for Barbara to give back to the Proctor School District. She is committed and looks forward to helping young people, teachers, staff, and other organizations receive the funding needed to further grow and achieve success. Barb joined the REA3D Board in 2014.
Louise Lind, Treasurer
Louise Lind is a graduate of Hibbing High School and parent of three Proctor graduates, and resides in Canosia Township. She has been on the REA3D Board since 2008. She currently serves as REA3D Treasurer. She served for 12 years as a member of the School Board of Proctor Public Schools, and was also on the board of the Northeast Service Cooperative. Louise worked as payroll and benefits coordinator for ISD 704 from 1992-2002. During that time she helped set up REA3D’s first payroll deduction option for Proctor employees. This has generated a sizable increase in the endowment fund. From 2002-2016, Louise was the Chief Human Resource Officer at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. As a REA3D Board Member, she supports lifelong learning for all members of the Proctor School community and hopes to broaden the horizons of community members residing in the Proctor School District.
Shelly Vanneste began serving as a REA3D director on August 26, 2019. Shelly is the forty-ninth individual to serve, since REA3D’s inception in 1996. Shelly has lived in the Proctor community for over 20 years. Her husband is a Proctor graduate, as are their parents. Shelly and her husband have seventeen-year-old twin daughters who currently attend Proctor High School.
Shelly has been the owner/executive director (and at one time a lead teacher) of Mesabi Preschool Academy in Proctor and Duluth, and was an active member of Twin Ports Mothers of Multiples, and volunteered with the March of Dimes, Bentleyville, and the Lake Superior Zoo.
Shelly describes herself as an outgoing individual, passionate about quality education, who loves using her creativity to work on fundraising events. She says, “I have been a recipient of a REA3D Grant and would love to have the opportunity to assist other groups/organizations bring their goals/dreams to reality!”
Laura Condon is a 1967 graduate of Proctor High School. After graduating from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1971, she joined the Proctor English Department. In the late 1970s, she received a Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Superior and continued to teach until retiring from Proctor in 2006. She is now completing a second term as a REA3D Board member. While education is her first and most exciting interest, another area she enjoys is working with Community Action Duluth’s tax free program. Building the REA3D Foundation and awarding grants to those who have unique educational needs is fulfilling for her. She notes, “The Proctor community has always supported children and education. It is great to continue to work with and for so many supportive people.” Laura joined the REA3D Board in 2012. Her picture dates from REA3D’s Carnival Fundraising event where she served as a fortune teller.
Pat Toor Lowe
Beloved long-time REA3D Board member
July 5, 1933-March 27, 2020
Her Spirit Lives on in REA3D
Pat Toor Lowe was elected to our REA3D board in 2007. Although she was diminutive in size, she was a giant in terms of her involvement with the greater Proctor community and REA3D. A proud 1951 Proctor High School graduate, she led John Moody’s Marching band for four years in high school and again in 1988 with the resurgence of Moody’s Marchers. In much the same manner, Pat led her fellow REA3D board members. Pat strove to make people feel special with her hand-written thank you notes on REA3D’s behalf. When tables were set for events, including the
Tasting Event and the Candlelight Dinner, it was Pat who made sure that each decoration made people feel welcomed. She cut hydrangeas from her yard to adorn tables and arranged them with care. During the Tasting Event when board members were asked to sign up for one session to serve, Pat always signed up for two. When it came to grant awards, Pat tirelessly supported those who took the time to apply. She applied her PHS “eagle eye” editing skills before each newsletter went to print. Her smile and infectious laugh brightened our lives at each meeting. We will miss her presence, but her spirit will live within each board member. As we move forward without our dear friend, we will keep her alive by always asking, “What would Pat do?”
Lynn Peterson, Secretary
Lynn Peterson graduated from Hermantown High School in 1972. She holds degrees in English and History education from the University of Wisconsin Superior and a master’s in education from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She directed theater at Proctor High School for 26 years, and began teaching English, history, communications, yearbook, and theater in 1997. Following her teaching career, she was the staff development coordinator for one year, and the student parent liaison at Bay View Elementary for two years. She and her husband Ted are the proud parents of four Proctor graduates. They have seven amazing grandchildren. Post-retirement, Ted and Lynn walked the 500+ mile Camino de Santiago across Spain. They both love to travel, garden, volunteer, hike, cook, and entertain family and friends. Lynn currently operates the Kids Closet for Proctor Public Schools and manages the district’s Bookmobile for Pre-K. As a board member, her objective is to increase community involvement, promote volunteerism, and enrich the arts. Lynn joined the REA3D Board in 2008.
Janelle is REA3D’s 50th board member, whose membership was approved at the board’s annual meeting on August 18th, 2020.
Originally from a small farming community in north-central IL, Janelle found her way to Proctor about 6 years ago. She has an undergraduate degree from University of WI – LaCrosse and Master’s Degree in Food Science from University of Utah. She has worked for MN State Dept of Education and currently, Dept of Agriculture as a Agriculture Advisor. Previously, she has been employed and volunteered in leadership roles with multiple non-profit agencies, including American Heart Association, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, American Dietetic Association and Academy of Sports Medicine. Janelle’s non-profit experience is a valuable asset for REA3D.
Janelle is married to husband, Aaron, and proud mom of 2 Proctor students; daughter in 4th grade at Bayview Elementary and son starting 6th grade at Proctor Middle School. After 10 years in Alaska, Aaron’s commitment to his home state of MN made them pack up and relocate to ‘somewhere in north-eastern MN’. They moved to Proctor one month before their boy was to start kindergarten after a long and desperate house search. The whole family quickly realized what a gem of a community and school system they stumbled into. They are fully committed ‘Rails for Life’ with 2 hockey, baseball, football, and softball players. Janelle also is a committed all seasons outdoor runner and can be found around town or on local trails with her renegade doggie sidekick.
Janelle has been looking for opportunities to become more involved in her children’s school community. She comes from a family of community service after watching her Dad, Jerry, serve in leadership roles on their School Board for over 20 years, and Mom, Dixie, serve as Treasurer on multiple boards and township Election Judge. She recognizes the value of contributing time, positive energy, and voice of support for creating a healthy, thriving and greater school community. Janelle looks forward to being a contributing member of the REA3D board as she has so enjoyed meeting other like-minded members by participating in activities and learning about their mission and purpose. The REA3D Board of Directors thoroughly appreciates the skills and experience that Janelle brings to the board!
Connie Stanley is a 1974 Proctor graduate, and mother of three Proctor graduates. Connie recently retired after a 43 year career in health care. She spent the last 30 years working as the MRI Quality Technologist at St. Luke’s CDI in Duluth.
Connie has been an active board member since she joined the REA3D Board in 2004. She helps with all fundraising events, and is a constant advocate for the Foundation. She served as REA3D Vice President from 2005-2009, President from 2009-2013, and secretary from 2014-16. She is very passionate about quality public education and believes that REA3D grants provide important and valuable learning opportunities.
Katie Cotrell is REA3D’s 51th board member, whose membership was approved at the board’s annual meeting on August 18th, 2020. Katie is a 2009 graduate of Proctor High School and recently moved back to the area after a 5 year stint in Minneapolis for work. She graduated from UMD with a degree in Accounting (General Accounting, Budgeting, Information Systems, Business Administration etc.) and also developed a special interest in Coding, Analytics, Marketing, Event Planning, Coaching/Leading and Design. Katie says, “I truly love this community and want to be more involved. I feel like active participation in our local educational endowment is the perfect opportunity for me. I value education as an extremely important cornerstone for a successful life.” Katie says she is honored to have the chance to collaborate and give back to the community that has done so much in supporting herself and her family.
Katie is currently employed as a Data & Business Intelligence Lead for Cargill, where she works with multiple data systems and pulls together information for analysis. At Cargill, the multiple roles she has held include tags to Finance, Pricing, Strategic Marketing & Technology and Design. Her diverse knowledge of overall business aspects is a real asset to REA3D, as the fund grows and diversifies in the types of projects it can support. Katie’s prior experience outside of her regular jobs include coaching for Irondale Girls High School hockey team, serving as a mentor in the Mentor Duluth program, packing meals at Feed My Starving Children, and building houses with Habitat for Humanity. She co-chaired the Cargill Animal Nutrition’s Green Day celebration (Global Day of giving back), which involved planning community events for not only the Cargill Animal Nutrition headquarters in Minneapolis. Katie’s diverse skillset, which includes facilitation of on-line meeting communication, is greatly appreciated by the REA3D Board.
Kelly Okstad is in her sixth year of employment as an educational assistant at Bay View Elementary School. Kelly has a passion for helping others in the community. She has been active in Township activities including National Night Out and holiday parties for the children. Over the years, she has helped organize the Hylla 5K, many school picnics and work functions. She is currently a member of several youth sports and activities boards, due to the invitations that keep coming her way. Kelly says she “bleeds thick green,” and is very proud not only to have graduated from Proctor, but to have children attending school in the district. Kelly’s experience with other local community groups will be a great asset in her work with REA3D, and can help build bridges of understanding and collaboration in efforts that benefit all. Kelly joined the REA3D Board in 2018.
Heidi Voss currently teaches French at Proctor High School. She has also worked in retail and has a customer service background. She is a “worker bee,” and has volunteered for many events related to school organizations and sports teams in which her three children participate. Heidi has past board experience with the Duluth Figure Skating Club where she oversaw club expenditures and organized training facilitated competitions. Relative to her interest in REA3D, Heidi says, “I think it’s important for a community and school to come together to provide more than just book learning.” This results in well-rounded citizens – the greatest product a school and community can unleash on the world.” Heidi joined the REA3D Board in 2018.
Christy Strohm brings both business and volunteer experience to REA3D. She has worked in fundraising for non-profits, and held leadership positions in the Mirage Blue Line Club, PAHA, March of Dimes and Bay View PIE. She served as event coordinator for the Women Rock Breast Cancer Fundraiser. Christy has strengths in marketing, communication, social media and collaborative relationships. As a new board member, she wants to be a part of REA3D efforts to facilitate meaningful learning experiences—particularly creative proposals that are “outside of the box.” She has already participated in REA3D website management training, and brings experience and interest in social media and website management, along with her other capabilities. Christy joined the REA3d Board in 2018.
Rory Johnson began his career in physical education in Proctor in 1988, deeply invested in both curricular and extra-curricular activities with students. He taught health education, driver’s education, led several youth service initiatives, and coached many sports teams. He was instrumental in the realization of Proctor’s first PACC and a true believer in hands-on learning. Rory also represented his peers in union and staff development activities. Prior to his retirement in 2017, Rory served as district Activities Director and worked hard for the completion of the district’s new St. Luke’s Sports & Events Center. As a new REA3D board member joining in 2018, Rory looks forward to assisting the board in raising funds for REA3D and increasing REA3D’s connection to the broader community.
Roxanne Bijold is REA3D’s newest board member, joining in November of 2012. Roxanne says, “As a proud PHS grad of the class of ’75, I’ve attended several REA3D events and I love the work being done by this organization.” When invited to be more involved, Roxanne stepped up to the plate.
Roxanne is “mostly retired” from a long career in health care as a registered dietitian. She held leadership positions at Essentia Health and within her professional organizations, as well as being active in her church leadership. She enjoys indoor crafts such as quilting and scrapbooking, and pursues outdoor activities such as hiking and biking.
Fleta Carol, REA3D Coordinator
Fleta Carol currently serves as REA3D Coordinator. Fleta held this position from 2000-2014, retired from Proctor Public Schools in 2014, and returned to REA3D in 2018 to help with coordination tasks. Fleta is a 1971 graduate of Brainerd High School, graduated with a B.S. in Art Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1975, and went on to work in many educational improvement, substance abuse prevention and school safety initiatives within a variety of school districts and non-profits throughout her career. Her primary areas of focus have been grant proposal writing, project evaluation and endowment work. Fleta says returning to REA3D involvement at the present time is very gratifying. She is inspired by the commitment and hard work of the REA3D Board of Directors, who have substantially increased REA3D’s grantmaking capacity over the past several years.