Campus in the fall
thomas Carlson

thomas Carlson

English Instructor, High School  |  763-279-4274

thomas carlson (he/they) was born in Hibbing, MN, raised in Quebec, Canada, and educated in Minneapolis. He is a founding member of the Perpich Arts High School where he designs and teaches classes at the intersections of communications and the arts, identity, and equity. Within classes that are text, image, and/or performance centered, thomas has long explored how interdisciplinary language arts curricula can prepare young people to engage with joy in a world increasingly interconnected, dynamic, demanding, and mysterious. It’s a curriculum that asks students to create and communicate meaning while fostering a sense of importance, place, and power within their many communities. Young people are already showing us how to free ourselves from old paradigms and imagine new ones; young artists will be at the forefront.

Many experiences have shaped his pedagogy including a loving family and partner of 30 plus years, travels in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and camping in national and state parks and forest across the lower 48 and Alaska. Years of formal education include many conferences and networks but one, especially, was foundational. Through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he participated in a one-month residency program studying Shakespeare “through performance” in Ashland, Oregon, the site of the country’s oldest and largest Shakespeare festival.

Gender, race, and queer equity have always been passions in both his professional and personal life. As a founding member of the Minnesota School OUTreach Coalition, he helped conceive and organize statewide conferences for queer youth and their allies. Later, he was awarded a grant to take Perpich students to the White Privilege Conference in Memphis, TN, and then became part of the leadership team which brought this international, anti-racism conference to Minnesota in 2011. In 2013, he worked with others brought together by Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization combating sex trafficking through education and services to women, to host the Demand Change Project conference in St. Paul, MN. Most recently, he was a founding member of the Education Minnesota’s Racial Equity Advocates program. Through this program, he co-creates materials and travels the state leading professional development workshops for teachers focused on racial equity, cultural competency, and intersectionality.

The work of equity and young people has been at the center of thomas’ life and identity. He is ever grateful to the thousand (and more) evolved, empathetic, and generous young artists who have studied with him. Thanks to them, thomas continues every day to learn how much he doesn’t understand but also how to be a better accomplice in building a more equitable world.