by Dennis Dalman
For Nicole Wilke, it’s just like old times all over again: same city, same schools, same good friends and colleagues.
Raised in Sauk Rapids, Wilke is back, having been hired as the school district’s community-education director just a few months ago. She started the job July 1.
For 15 years, she and her husband were both employees of the Annandale-Maple Lake school system, commuting to work from Sauk Rapids – she as community-education director for the past eight years and as youth coordinator for enrichment programs and recreational activities for the seven years before that. Her husband, Bo, still teaches eighth-grade science, as well as coaching football and track, in Annandale.
“It’s fun to come back to Sauk Rapids,” Wilke told the Newsleader. “It’s the district I grew up in.”
She not only grew up in Sauk Rapids and attended its schools, but education was a constant nurturing presence in her life. The daughter of Barbara and Ben Miller, her father taught fifth grade in Sauk Rapids for 40 years and also served as a basketball and softball coach. Sports was also a big part of Miller’s life. She played volleyball, basketball and softball at Sauk Rapids schools and has been number-one fan for her children’s involvement in sports. She and Bo have three children – Lindsay, 20, who is studying business at St. Cloud Technical College; Anthony, 15, a sophomore in Sauk Rapids and Finley, 5, who is just starting kindergarten this month.
“I love it; I love my job,” Wilke said. “As a community member, I was always proud of Sauk Rapids, and now I’m really proud to be able to be back here and work with such a great staff in this (Sauk Rapids-Rice) school district.”
The district’s community-education program offers a staggering variety of classes and activities for people ages birth to post-retirement: health and wellness, trips, finance and money, arts and crafts, foreign language, computers and technology, dance, a program called “Boomers and Zoomers” for people over 50, and more – much more.
Wilke’s goal this year is to re-examine every offering, to expand some and add some, based on what Sauk Rapids-Rice residents want. She and her staff plan to reach out to businesses and residents to do some brainstorming about community education – to find out what they want, what they don’t want, what can be improved and what should even be dropped, if anything.
When she is not busy with school work, Wilke most enjoys just being with her family, often at sporting events and really special moments boating on lakes.