Former Monticello Community Education Director Duane Gates will receive a Lifetime Achievement award this week from the Minnesota Community Education Association (MCEA) during the organization’s Leadership Days meeting in St. Cloud.
MCEA is a statewide membership organization of community educators.
Since forming in 1974, the organization has grown to 1,200 members. MCEA has members from all parts of Minnesota, including community education directors, staff, program coordinators, teachers, advisory council members and community members.
Statewide, the community education system serves 1.7 million school-age kids and nearly 300,000 children from birth to age 4 andmore than 900,000 adults annually, the MCEA website states.
Gates was Monticello’s 2013 Citizen of the Year. His selection was made public by the Monticello Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Monticello Lions and Monticello Rotary. Gates retired after a historic run as Monticello’s Community Education program director.
Gates received his undergraduate degree in education and began eyeing a career in community education at an opportune time for this field, since the idea of community ed was just starting to take off in Minnesota.
After taking notice of a program in Flint, Mich., Minnesota schools became one of the first to implement community education, and the Monticello district began its program the second year this idea was introduced to the state, when the program received a $5,000 grant in 1972 to hire its own community education director and start a program.
In a Monticello Times profile published last June, Gates said community ed often served as an incubator of sorts for new ideas, such as dance, soccer or lacrosse programs, especially when there were no private studios or clubs.
According to Gates, as the private sector or clubs step in, community ed can step out if the need is filled. Community education also works to complement what other clubs are offering to ensure opportunities.
“I liked the flexibility of the job, and the variety,” he said. “And the opportunity to serve the community. It has been a wonderful career in that way to work with all the youth groups, organizations and all the individuals who want to use the facilities. My wife and I raised our family in the community, we participated in the programs, and it was a great to be involved with everyone in the community.”
Gates added: “Everyone has been fantastic to work with and I’d just like to thank the community for their support the past 40 years because they made it happen. Without their participation, it would have ceased to exist.”
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