Middle School Teacher Bios

Laura Byard


Title: EL Lead Teacher, 7/8 Writing, 2nd Grade, 6-8 CLASS

Languages spoken: English (Level 6), Spanish (Level 3), Portuguese (Level 2), Somali (Level 1)

Contact info: laura.byard@mpls.k12.mn.us

About me:

I grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota and received my Bachelor of Arts in Chicano Studies and Spanish & Portuguese Studies from the University of Minnesota. I studied abroad in Mérida, Venezuela in 2005 and before teaching,  worked and volunteered in middle schools for many years. I served in AmeriCorps for two years, one year in Minneapolis at Northeast Middle School and the second in Georgia at Hands On Atlanta. I completed my Master of Education in Second Languages and Cultures with a teaching license in English as a Second language. This is my fifth year teaching and my third year teaching in my neighborhood at Anne Sullivan! I love to teach students writing and the power of their words hold. When I am not at school, my husband and I love to read, knit, attend yoga, hike, camp, travel, bike, snuggle with our cats, and running around with our dog.


DJ Kukielka



Title: EL Teacher, Co-teach Grade 7-8 Science

Languages spoken: English (Level 6), Spanish (Level 3)

Contact info: Daniel.Kukielka@mpls.k12.mn.us

About me:  

I grew up in Minneapolis and attended Minneapolis Public Schools. I graduated from Southwest High School in 1996 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado. I will be finishing my master’s degree in teaching from Hamline University in Saint Paul next year.

I love Minneapolis, and I love teaching. This is my second year at Anne Sullivan and my fourth year teaching. Our students have so many different experiences and cultures to share. We have a great staff with so many different backgrounds and experiences. It is a great place to teach and a great place to learn.


Mahdi Sultan

Title: EL Teacher, Sheltered Instruction in grades 6, 7 and 8th; Heritage Language Bilingual Teacher, Grades K-1

Languages spoken: English (Level 6), Somali (Level 6), Arabic (Level 6)

Contact info: Mahdi.Sultan@mpls.k12.mn.us

About me:

My teaching career started in 1998. I taught English in Yemen public schools before I moved to the United States. I have been at Anne Sullivan since 2005. During these years, I have worked with students from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Currently, I teach Somali language to students who speak Somali at home (grades K-1). I do also teach the sheltered Instruction program that serves students in grades 6,7 and 8 . I learned English as a second language, and I am really fully aware of what it takes to acquire a language that is not your native language. I did my first degree at San’a University in Yemen and did English Language Arts and ESL teaching licenses at Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN. I speak Arabic, and Somali is my native language. Outside school life, I’m a father of 6; five of them are in Minneapolis Public schools and I spend most of my time with my family.


Chris Cannady

Title: 6th Grade EL Teacher

Languages spoken: English (level 6), Spanish (level 2), Somali (level 1)

Contact info: christopher.cannady@mpls.k12.mn.us

About me:  

I grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota and attended college at Gustavus Adolphus College where I studied Political Science and Philosophy.  My interest in Political Science led me to study abroad during my senior year in Istanbul, Turkey which is a beautiful and extremely interesting region of the world.   After graduating from Gustavus I decided to become a teacher because I really enjoyed working with children when I was a tennis coach in Bloomington and because I know from personal experience that teachers have a tremendous ability to positively impact the lives of their students.  Before coming to Anne Sullivan I taught ESL for two years at a charter school in north Minneapolis called Best Academy where I worked with new-to-country students and also as the soccer coach after school.  I am currently working on completing a Masters degree in teaching ESL at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.