Chatfield Community Education director honored by her peers in state organization


Chatfield Community Education Director LuAnn Klevan is the Region 1 recipient of the Minnesota Community Education Association Regional Community Educator of Excellence Award.
By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“I thrive on change. That’s why I love what I do,” stated Chatfield Community Education Director LuAnn Klevan, Region 1 recipient of the Minnesota Community Education Association (MCEA) Regional Community Educator of Excellence Award on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the MCEA state conference.   

MCEA promotes and supports community education programs throughout the state of Minnesota, providing professional development opportunities, mentoring for new directors and access to program resources.  MCEA also has a legislative committee that lobbies for support for community education. 

Most community education directors and many community education staff belong to MCEA, noted Klevan, who added that the Chatfield district has had membership for as long as she has been with the district and for many years prior to that. 

“MCEA plays a very important role in helping me keep step with the changes, trends and legislative updates in community education,” she said. “Through MCEA, I have been able to meet the continuing education unit requirements for licensure renewal every five years.”     

Klevan has been in the community education field for the past 30 years. She started as a community education director in 1989 in Spring Valley. She continued with the district after it became Kingsland until 2008.  She started part-time in Chatfield in 2004, and then became full-time in 2008. 

“When I started in community education, I had a desk, phone and typewriter. Times have changed,” she observed. “I love that community education is always evolving. When I started in Kingsland, it was primarily about adult classes and trips.  In the early ‘90s, we added school-age care, and after-school enrichment.”

Her favorite part has been working with the preschool program in Chatfield. Preschool has been redefined over the years, she said, and it has been exciting to be a part of that process.  As community education director, she is the administrator for preschool, Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and Valleyland.  She is also responsible for scheduling the youth and adult enrichment classes and activities. 

“My job includes staffing, training, scheduling, budgeting, billing, promoting, customer service, public relations, grant writing, problem solving, program development and other duties, as assigned,” Klevan said.

Over the years, she has learned that there’s likely always challenge awaiting her after a class or program is set. 

“I never get too comfortable. You can plan a program – it looks good on paper – but when you add people, it becomes a little unpredictable. I have to be prepared for the unexpected, and that is sometimes a challenge. It pushes me to think on my feet, use creative problem-solving and to always be respectful of customers and staff. I have developed the ability to remain calm in difficult situations. I have learned to give myself time to think before I respond to a situation,” she said. “I have become more confident as a leader. Learning is an ongoing process. I hope it continues throughout my career.”    

Part of the learning process has encompassed working with other entities to make enrichment and educational opportunities possible. She has had the opportunity to become involved with programming at the county and regional level. 

“I value working with community education directors in other school districts.  Together, as the Fillmore County Early Childhood Initiative, we have planned and implemented training opportunities for early childhood staff throughout the county,” she said. “I’ve also had the opportunities to facilitate some of the trainings. That is actually one of my passions.” 

Klevan said that she hopes her interactions with staff, co-workers and customers – adults and children – make them feel respected and valued. 

“Through community education, I try to remove barriers to make programs accessible to all families and individuals within our community,” she said. “Through our programs, I hope kids get a sense of belonging and feel good about their accomplishments. 

“Through ECFE, I have seen parents become more confident.  I love working with an incredible staff.  My success is directly tied to the preschool, ECFE and Valleyland staff.  I love watching them in action, supporting their efforts and visiting with them in the hallways.  Since moving my office to the elementary, I also get to see and hear the preschoolers in the hallway.  That always makes me smile.” 

While Klevan appreciates and was very surprised to be named by MCEA as one of six directors being honored, she said she still feels that it’s the everyday experiences that make her occupation exciting.  She received word of her honor in a phone call from Region 1 representative Jen Lohman, who is the community education director for the Zumbrota-Mazeppa school district.

“I’ve been in community education for 30 years, and I really never expected to be honored at this level,” she said. “In the early 2000s, I developed and implemented a youth mentor program through the Fillmore County Family Services Collaborative, and that program received a project award through MCEA. But this particular award was presented at the MCEA fall conference, at an awards luncheon on Oct. 24; the award was presented to me, and a brief biography was read.  I truly feel honored to be recognized by my peers.”    

While Chatfield Community Education is always evolving to meet the needs of the community, she pointed out the Community Education Advisory Council provides direction. 

“They are community education’s eyes and ears to the community,” she said. “To better meet the needs, we also need direct community input and involvement.  I welcome ideas, resources and volunteers to help lead us in new directions and to better serve the youth and adults in our district.” 

For more information on Chatfield Community Education, email Klevan at lklevan@chatfieldschools.com or stop in her office at the elementary school on the hill.