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School Board Members

 Tracy Brunette

Tracy Brunnette

School Board Chair, Term Expires December 2021

tbrunnet@sowashco.org, 651-321-8449
7362 E Point Douglas Road S, Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Tracy Brunnette has an accounting degree from the Carlson School of Management through the University of Minnesota. She works with American Family Insurance and is currently pursuing her ChFC designation. Tracy volunteered extensively with ECFE and in various capacities across the district before being elected to the School Board in 2000. She has two sons who graduated from Park High School.


2020 School Assignments:
  • Cottage Grove Elementary School
  • Royal Oaks Elementary School
  • Lake Middle School
2020 Committee Assignments:
  • SWCS Education Foundation
  • Personnel Committee
  • Youth Advisory Council (YAC) - Elementary


Katie Schwartz 

Katie Schwartz

School Board Vice-Chair, Term Expires December 2021

kschwart5@sowashco.org, 651-353-4446
7362 E. Point Douglas Road South, Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Katie Schwartz is a Park High School graduate who was first elected to the School Board in 2013. She and her husband have four children and reside in St. Paul Park. Their oldest daughter graduated from Park, and their other three children are students in the district. Katie holds a bachelors degree in CyberSecurity and is currently working on her Masters in CyberSecurity at Concordia University. She volunteers with many groups within the community and district schools.


2020 School Assignments:

  • Liberty Ridge Elementary School
  • Pullman Elementary School
  • Park High School

2020 Committee Assignments:

  • Northeast Metro Tech 916
  • Personnel Committee
  • Special Education Advisory Committee
  • Early Childhood Family Education Committee


Sharon Van Leer 

Sharon Van Leer

School Board Clerk, Term Expires December 2021

svanleer@sowashco.org, 651-846-9621
7362 E. Point Douglas Rd. South, Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Sharon Van Leer was elected to the School Board in November 2013 for a four-year term. She is married to the Rev. Thomas Van Leer and they have six children. Sharon holds a degree from Metropolitan State University in Business Administration. She has been employed at William Mitchell College of Law as a Multicultural Specialist and International Student Advisor for the past 26 years. She contributes to the overall effectiveness of academic programs and serves as an advocate for students. Sharon has served on the District's Equity and Integration Community Board, SWC Educational Foundation Board, Minnesota State Troopers Oral Interviewing Board and the South Washington County Foster Parent Association

2020 School Assignments:
  • Valley Crossing Elementary School 
  • Woodbury Elementary School
  • Woodbury Middle School
  • Woodbury High School
2020 Committee Assignments:
  • Advisory Staff Development Committee (ASDC)
  • Equity & Integration Advisory Committee
  • Personnel Committee


Pat Driscoll 

Patricia Driscoll

School Board Treasurer, Term Expires December 2021

pdriscol1@sowashco.org, 651-925-6481
7362 East Point Douglas Rd. Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Pat Driscoll grew up in St. Paul, MN and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Driscoll holds an Education Specialist Degree from the University of St. Thomas. She taught special education for 20 years and was an elementary principal in the Lake Superior School District. Driscoll has also served as District Graduate Rule Coordinator, Curriculum Coordinator, Staff Development Coordinator, Assessment Coordinator and a Title I Director. Driscoll retired in 2015 and relocated to Cottage Grove. She is married with three grown daughters, two granddaughters and a grandson.

2020 School Assignments 
  • Bailey Elementary School 
  • Pine Hill Elementary School 
  • Red Rock Elementary School 
  • Cottage Grove Middle School 

 2020 Committee Assignments: 

  • Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD) 
  • Policy Review Committee


Louise Hinz

Louise Hinz

School Board Director, Term Expires December 2023

lhinz0@sowashco.org, 651-337-9180
7362 E. Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Louise Hinz is a professional educator who taught in the South Washington County School District for more than 20 years before retiring in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, a Master of Science degree in education from Winona State University, and is a nationally certified Thinking Math Trainer. She and her husband, a Park High School graduate, have lived in Afton since 1984 and have two adult children who graduated from Woodbury High School.

 2020 School Assignments: 

  • Crestview Elementary School
  • Grey Cloud Elementary School
  • Oltman Middle School
  • SWC High School 

 2020 Committee Assignments:

  • Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC)
  • School Communicators
  • Youth Advisory Council (YAC) 

Melinda Dols 

Melinda Dols

School Board Director, Term Expires December 2023

mdols01@sowashco.org, 651-243-0177
7362 E. Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove, MN 55106

Bio: Melinda Dols is a Woodbury High School graduate and resides in the district with her husband and three children. Two of her children are current students in the district at Lake Middle School and East Ridge High School and one child graduated from East Ridge High School and the Next Step program. Melinda is an involved parent at her children's schools and has been an active member of several committees/boards in the district. Melinda holds a Master's degree in Counseling and Psychological Services from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota and has over twenty years work experience in Child Protection, Mental Health, and Developmental Disabilities. She was also just hired on as an Adjunct Professor at Concordia University.


2020 School Assignments:

  • Armstrong Elementary School
  • Middleton Elementary School
  • East Ridge High School
  • Next Step

2020 Committee Assignments:

  • City of Woodbury
  • Region 3AA (MSHSL)
  • Youth Advisory Council (YAC) - High School


Simi Patnaik 

Simi Patnaik

School Board Director, Term Expires December 2023

spatnaik@sowashco.org, 651-560-5649
7362 E. Point Douglas Road S., Cottage Grove, MN 55016

Bio: Simi Patnaik has been an active district volunteer since 2010, serving in various positions on the Nuevas Fronteras PTSO board, volunteering for referendum committees, and serving on the district’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee. She has a bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and an MBA in marketing and finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She works as a consultant and also leads Woodbury Thrives, a health and wellness collaborative. She and her husband, Mohit Dewan, have lived in the district since 2002 and have two children: a daughter at Woodbury High School and a son at Woodbury Middle School.

2020 School Assignments:  

  • Nuevas Fronteras Spanish Immersion Elementary School 
  • Newport Elementary School
  • Hillside Elementary School
  • ACCESS

2020 Committee Assignments:

  • City of Cottage Grove 
  • Audit and Finance Committee
  • Citizens' Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC)
  • Policy Review Committee