Nicki Magaard has only been a counselor at Blaine’s Roosevelt Middle School for two years. But her contribution to the school is impossible to miss, according to Mike Driscoll, one of the school’s assistant principals.
In those two years at the school, Magaard has developed a slew of new support groups, a new orientation program for students and families new to the school, reinstituted the school’s student mentoring program and helped a group of students create an anti-bullying group, which she now advises.
All of her hard work has led Magaard to be named one of the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s 2012-2013 Above & Beyond Award winners.
Magaard is one of 10 recipients of the annual award that recognizes teachers, administrative assistants, cooks, custodians and other employees who work extra-hard to make sure students are successful.
“This award is such an honor,” she said. “I am lucky to assist students and families in navigating the education process, finding their strengths and solving problems to find their success.”
Driscoll is impressed with Magaard’s ability to tackle complex issues, saying she “works hard to find solutions to situations that do not have an easy answer.”
But for Magaard, a self-professed student “cheerleader,” it’s all part of the territory.
“The best part about my job is when a student recognizes something good about him (or) herself that they were not able to see before,” she said. “They sit up a little taller and I know they are leaving my office with a bit more confidence than they came in with—and who knows where that confidence might take them.”
Magaard doesn’t just think inside the box, either.
In nominating her for the award, her colleagues at Roosevelt said she once had a hairstylist come in to talk to some of her female students. Knowing the importance of self-confidence, she had the professional talk to the girls about personal grooming and each student left with a new hairstyle and improved self-image.
“I believe all students should feel important, understand what their strengths are and have the opportunity to use them,” Magaard said.