About Me

Biography of Carmen Gimpl


Carmen Vanderport-Johnson grew up in a small, rural town in the scenic countryside of Hinckley, Minnesota.  She completed her teaching degree at the College of St. Scholastica, where she studied English and minored in Russian, which included a study abroad experience in Petrozavodsk, Russia.  After teaching in the business and public sector she accepted the challenging task of starting a licensed, public, alternative high school in Braham, Minnesota for their at-risk population.   During this time she earned her Master of Science in Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12 Principal and District Superintendent’s certification from St. Cloud State University.  While running the Braham ALP as a single-person staff, the enormity of the task for one person kept her in the mindset of braiding together multiple disciplines in one large project to weave in standards and make learning real for her students.  She didn’t know that this style of teaching had components of project based learning; she did it that way because she was the only teacher, and to teach everything, it made the most sense to braid it together.  Her students went camping and visited the Audubon Center multiple times a year for experiential learning and learning by doing, not just from a concept in a textbook.  As funding dwindled for alternative education, she re-entered the traditional high school classroom to continue inspiring her students to become the best version of themselves and to utilize their “unique gifts” to the best of their potentials.  

Lessons Learned

Throughout her life she has learned many valuable things along the way.  Kids will write beautiful poetry while sitting in a forest or by a crackling fire.  They will remember every event shared on a night, owl-walk, and laugh to tears sharing their memories of it.  Many important lessons in life are not learned in the classroom and she encourages her students to explore their world.  Carmen’s passion for travel and learning about many cultures began on her college trip to Russia.  She tells all her students that they need to go see new places as often as they can and that you never really stop learning.  

Carmen has taught  her students things like the art of fly fishing, which she learned from her supervising teacher from her student teaching experience, and that learning is exciting.  Lifelong learning to her also means being open to each experience that we encounter, and making it valuable and meaningful.  As an educator she feels we are to do right by each child as an individual.  Learning needs to be both personal and personalized to make a difference.


Carmen lives in Cambridge, Minnesota with her husband and three daughters.  She loves gardening, reading, camping, canoeing, traveling, and is often spotted reading on her deck.