Kurt Hattenberger image

Learn more about Kurt Hattenberger, the new Simulation Specialist for the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy.

Kurt Hattenberger has enjoyed a diverse career as an educator, musician, and conductor. Originally trained as a music teacher, Kurt has worked with varied groups in the classroom, paraprofessional settings, and the community. After working with the M Simulation Standardized Patient program at the University of Minnesota Medical School, he decided to begin to pursue simulation as a career. He sees immense potential in the power of simulation to shape learners' futures and is excited to continue to learn more about the field and its applications.

  1. What is your job title, and what will you be doing? As the new Simulation Specialist I will be assisting with the creation and implementation of our simulation program. Basically, I'll work with faculty and the curriculum team to create simulations in which our learners can practice important skills with actors instead of actual clients and families. This will allow them to hone skills in a safe, controlled environment, where they can also receive valuable feedback.
  2. Tell us about your education and/or work experience prior to joining the MNCWTA. My journey to simulation has been a winding one. Most of my education and work experience involve music or education. I have a bachelor's degree in Music Education, and a master's degree in Saxophone Performance. I have worked as a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional, a conductor, and in music publishing. I became interested in simulation working as a standardized patient at the University of Minnesota medical school, and from there I began looking for opportunities to continue along that path, which brought me to the Academy.
  3. What do you enjoy most about your work? This is a new position, and things are just getting up and running with it, but I am very excited about the application of simulation to the field of social work. Simulation has been a part of medical school education for about 40 or 50 years, but it is relatively new to social work, and I find it really exciting to see what we can do with something that is so valuable.
  4. What are you most passionate about professionally? Education has always been very, very important to me. During my time in music, I was interested in figuring out how to make classical music accessible to everyone, and was also interested in getting to the "how" and "why" of what we were teaching. This position in simulation poses many questions I am interested in: What do we want our learners to know, and how can we ensure that our simulations support that? How do we balance curriculum goals and standardization with authenticity and human stories? How do we evaluate our learners in ways that allow for growth, feedback, and improvement on our side of the equation? There's a lot of exciting stuff ahead of me.
  5. What are you most passionate about personally? I think "learning" would best describe my personal passions. I am endlessly curious about the world we live in, the people who populate it, different ways of looking at and interacting with the world and with each other, and how it all fits together. There is so much to know and learn and experience, and I feel like I'd appreciate a few more lifetimes to make sure I can take it all in.
  6. What do you like to do outside of work? Much of my time outside of work is devoted to music. Things are a little sparse at the moment with the continuing pandemic, but during more normal times I play with two saxophone quartets, conduct my own chamber choir, sing in a few other choirs, conduct a film score orchestra once a year, and have various other musical activities lined up. I also love outdoor activities, especially backpacking, hiking, and canoeing. I love to read (I'm usually reading two or three books at any given time), and I've been going to bar trivia with the same group of friends for eight years now.
  7. What else should we know about you? I'm a bit of a houseplant fanatic, and I was very excited to see the number of plants at the Academy! I have around 40 houseplants at home, and I'll probably bring some more in for my cubicle when we all come back in person.