'A lot of the students see her as a mother or grandmother figure': Brooklyn Park charter school principal dies of coronavirus

Choua Yang, 53, died Oct. 9

A woman stands with her arms crossed.
Choua Yang, the principal and founder of a Hmong cultural language charter school in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has died of the coronavirus.
Courtesy of Crystal Vang

Through conversations with their family members, colleagues and close friends, MPR News is remembering the lives of the people we’ve lost, too soon, to COVID-19. If you’d like to share the story of someone you’ve lost to COVID-19, please email us at tell@mpr.org.


The principal and founder of a Hmong cultural language charter school in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has died of the coronavirus.

The family of Choua Yang says she died Friday at age 53 after battling COVID-19 for four weeks, including three weeks on a ventilator.

Yang and her husband started Prairie Seeds Academy. Staff say Yang was a passionate educator and caring principal who took the threat of the coronavirus seriously. Students at the school have been distance learning since the start of the academic year.

"Of all people, she was very careful about social distancing, about making smart and wise decisions, about not letting her guard down," Tou Ger Xiong, a staff member at the school, said.

A refugee herself, she built a school that embraced students of all cultural backgrounds, KMSP-TV reported.

"Some principals, they lock themselves in their office and get caught up with the administrative work. She's very hands on and very interactive with the students so a lot of the students see her as a mother or grandmother figure," Xiong said.

Staff have been at the school in a limited capacity leading up to the school year, but students have not been in the building.

The school issued a statement that said there was nothing more important to her than her students.

"She celebrated their successes, cared deeply when they were troubled and needed help, and was devoted to making things better for every student, family, and staff member at PSA," the school said.

Through conversations with their family members, colleagues and close friends, MPR News is remembering the lives of the people we’ve lost, too soon, to COVID-19. If you’d like to share the story of someone you’ve lost to COVID-19, please email us at tell@mpr.org.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.