Audra Nissen Boyer, Director of Community Education for Mankato Public Schools, began her career in social work and said her background has guided her throughout her career.
“Although I am no longer a practicing social worker, this is the lens through which I continue to do everything,” she said.
“Being an educational leader in a community education role is really, in my opinion, macro-social work. It’s about working with the community to solve local problems.
Nissen Boyer is seen as a leader statewide, with other community education directors turning to her for guidance. She oversees a program that provides community programs and services for people from birth to adulthood, including baby classes, pregnancy classes, and parenting classes, among a myriad of other programs.
“One thing I would say about Audra’s leadership in community education is that she has a very steady hand and is able to get the best out of the people who work with her,” said said the school district superintendent. Paul Peterson.
“A real team approach which of course is a huge plus when working in really difficult situations.
“She got a whole team together there at Community Education. And his fingerprints of leadership are all over these people. They continue to work during the later stages of the pandemic. Audra’s leadership has been very important in helping this group through a very difficult time.
In the early days of the pandemic, emergency child care services were needed in school districts. The planning and execution of that plan fell to Community Ed, Peterson said.
Community Ed took his ACES, year-round school-age child care model, and tweaked it, with Nissen Boyer being “fast on his feet again,” Peterson said, ” “thinking about how to make this plan work for staff and families in need so that childcare services are available for essential workers. It had to be organized quickly.”
Nissen Boyer is in her 10th year at Mankato Public Schools, and prior to that, she held the same position at Waseca Public Schools. In Mankato, she oversees a departmental budget of $6.5 million.
She said that every day of the week and every season of the year her job is different.
“We work with a multitude of stakeholders to meet the unique needs of our community,” she said. “What I can do in Mankato is very different from what my peer in St. Peter can do. And I think that’s the best part of the job.
Nissen Boyer said his biggest challenge in the workplace is securing and retaining staff, and an ongoing challenge is discovering new, innovative ways to authentically engage the community.
“It becomes more and more difficult as people are compartmentalised,” she said. “The challenge is to figure out ways to really seek out community members to involve them in activities, or conversely, to create activities that people want to get involved in.”
When asked why Nissen Boyer deserves accolades, answers pour in from his staff, peers and community stakeholders.
Jim Roy, Chair of the Community Education Advisory Council, said, “Audra continues to adapt community education programs to include and meet the needs of children, families and adults in our community. It works in partnership with individuals and other community organizations to help achieve community education goals. »
Melanie Schmidt, Community Education Youth Development Program Coordinator, said Nissen Boyer is a “tireless champion of inclusion and ensuring that all students and families have a space to belong and that their goals learning are supported. She is dedicated to making community education a positive influence on a child’s learning and development. »
Nissen Boyer is driven by the people her department serves and aspires to serve, said Sam Schirmers, ACES program director. “She inspires her team to think creatively and collaboratively across the department, district and community. She is a champion of underserved communities and is good at building meaningful partnerships. »
The needs and best interests of the community are always at the center of Nissen Boyer’s mind when making decisions and developing programs.
“Audra is a selfless leader who puts the needs of the community and her team first,” said Katie Gag, assistant director of early learning for Mankato Area Public Schools.
“She is very intentional in designing spaces, communication and programming that are accessible to all and creates a space where people from all backgrounds and cultures feel accepted and welcome.”