ST. CLOUD -- From grade school teacher to dean of education, Jennifer Mueller is this week's Rookie of the Week.

Every week WJON's Rush Hour hosts Chrissy Gaetke and Richard Leguil feature a "Rookie" who has been nominated by a family member, friend or colleague for doing an outstanding job in their new position.

Mueller is the Dean of St. Cloud State University's School of Education. Like all rookies, she is new to her position but she has several years of experience working in the field of education.

"I started my career a long time ago in the 90s as a classroom teacher. I taught first grade for a long time. I didn't grow up necessarily wanting to be a dean but this is how life has worked out."

After being a teacher for years, Mueller decided to further her education by going to graduate school at the University of Michigan. After graduating she moved on to taking a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where she was the Chair of their early childhood education program.

"Then this position became open and someone made a phone call and said hey I think you'll be great for this. I said alright I might as well give it a try. It was the next step in moving up in the higher education world."

Mueller manages five departments within the School of Education. She says her days involve a lot of meetings and primarily her position is focused on how she and her team can improve the SCSU School of Education.

"We have teacher education programs so we are preparing early childhood teachers, elementary teachers, high school teachers. We have a human relations component that does some work in that area. Then we have a higher education so we prepare principals and people who want to be administrators in higher education."

Although Mueller is less than a year into her new position she has already started to create some goals. One of them is creating a new building for the school.

"I really, really want a new building. Some of our longer-term goals is re-establishing a lab school on our campus. Looking at some community partnerships, potentially looking at the creation of a children's museum in St. Cloud that could be in conjunction with the school of education."

The education building was built in 1971.

For anyone wanting to become a dean or go into education in general, Mueller has the best advice a former teacher could ever give.

"Just ask a lot of questions. People have to be totally comfortable and I don't always have all of the answers so I find people to ask."

Mueller says through asking questions she's met a lot of people and created valuable partnerships along the way.

Do you have someone you'd like to nominate for Rush Hour's "Rookie of the Week?" If so, email Chrissy Gaetke, or Richard Leguil,

"Rookie of the Week" airs weekly on Rush Hour, weeknights from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. only on AM 1240 WJON.


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