The help and support we receive from many community directors across the state of Minnesota make it possible for us to expand our mission and offer our classes to as many people as possible. One of the incredible community directors we work with is Ronelva “Roni” Dauer, Director, ISD 2752 Fairmont Community Education and Recreation (“CER”). We recently caught up with Roni to discuss what she does and how we work together to build awareness and ignite interest in the skilled trades.
How did start your career with the Fairmont CER?
I have worked here since June 1974 (talk about longevity!) in clerical, program supervision, program coordination and finally director in 2006 when the CER Director, Gary Hamman, retired and I was asked to take the position.
I have an education background and taught 7th & 8th grade life & earth science at Ceylon on a teacher’s maternity. In 1974, the clerical position and an opportunity to work with the recent (1971) state funded, emerging community education program offered me continued work in a related educational field. Fortunately, the Director also saw value in my background to sometimes “go out and play in the park with the kids” through the new summer day camp as well. I worked under the same Director for 32 years and learned much in our expanding mission to “Promote lifelong learning and leisure opportunities for all ages.”
What does your position entail?
Key to this mission and position are Networking, Cooperation, Collaboration and Building Partnerships. I go to many meetings and always excited about new partnerships and problem solving to meet changing needs in our community. Customer Service is important in our program- we are often the only opportunity for taxpayers to connect with the school – especially in an aging community with lower numbers of E-12 direct family connections. As I tell my staff, complaints are not complaints but the opportunities to improve on what we do.
I love being able to learn something new. This position has certainly offered this opportunity every day and is why I love my job (and have stayed so long!) As a country school attendee moving into “town school” at 7th grade, I was very shy throughout high school. My position(s) and longevity with community education and recreation changed me into someone very passionate about working under the basic philosophy of community education and often enjoy talking (probably too long) about all there is to CER in our community. Helping others find their passion and/or share their talents so others can learn is truly a joy.
Why is it important to you to build interest in the trades for your community’s youth?
We need to offer opportunities for youth and young adults in trades as well as academics. Young adults may not be interested in careers needing post-secondary as much as trade skills and/or are looking for paying positions instead of college loans. It is imperative that we make youth feel welcomed, needed and included in our community’s future when their life decisions may immediately or in later years “suggest” moving to Minnesota or back to their home communities.
Big Ideas Connections
With the dynamically changing world of new technology, it is exciting to be involved in offering new learning opportunities for both youth and adults. We are in a continuous age of changes and need to meet the changing needs of our community and world by building a future with strong, compassionate and caring leaders of all ages. It is important to promote innovative ways to inspire this type of leadership and help all to feel they are living purposeful, healthy lifestyles.
Hands-on, problem-solving trade skills as well as academic backgrounds with training in life skills are needed in our future leaders.
The need for trade skills offerings has been apparent and positively facilitated by the school administration. Offerings in trade skills for welding, upholstery, flight (aviation), and robotics have been made available to youth. These same offerings utilizing school facilities are possible through CER through additional funding by Big Ideas enabling use of salaried teachers but maintaining reasonable cost to interested adults. Employment centers indicate the need for skill development in electrical, plumbing and automotive areas as well. Gardening, Horticulture, Child Care and other areas are also potential offerings.
Adults looking at possible career changes or different retirement activities/positions can benefit from these offerings to explore their interests before making career changes.
Thank you, Roni for taking the time to share your story and insight with our community. We appreciate everything you do!
If you would like to contact Roni, find her information here.