Garnavillo couple embraces prioritizing work and family

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The Reimer family visited Black Hills, S.D., last summer. Front from left are Hayden and Jack; back, Andrew and Mindy. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, workers from across the globe have either been forced, or made the choice, to self-isolate and work from home. The closing of most public and private schools, and daycares have left millions of children home with their parents and caregivers.

The Guttenberg Press reached out to Andrew and Mindy Reimer of Garnavillo and asked them to share their story. 

Mindy Reimer

Mindy Reimer has worked in education for the past 20 years. The former Clayton Ridge faculty member is currently working for Keystone Area Education Agency as a librarian. 

She shared, "I am regularly engaging and connecting with AEA consultants to offer support for families. Our team is working to establish in an effort to offer the continuity of service that is responsive to what our schools need at this time – shifting professional learning opportunities to online/on-demand learning and connections. Keystone AEA wants to support our local education agency partners' needs as districts transition to continuous learning opportunities.

Mindy has been staying connected using Google G Suite apps and Zoom. "Our Keystone AEA information technology staff and tech integrationists are working diligently to offer insights around best practices for use to keep us safe and up to date with effective communication efforts. I am grateful for reliable internet services at home to be able to engage in these connections." 

"I am participating in a statewide AEA system effort to respond to Iowa Department of Education recommendation and guidance for districts and schools. These are challenging times for all districts, and AEA is committed to serving them," she noted. 

The couple, married 16 years, has two children, ten-year-old Hayden and seven-year-old Jack. Mindy is involved in church council  at St. Peter Lutheran, Garnavillo, and Andrew is involved in Dollars for Scholars, Clayton County Foundation for the Future, Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission and the Guttenberg Historic Preservation Commission. Both are involved in the Cornerstone Community Foundation, in addition to coaching their children's various sports. The family enjoys the outdoors and traveling. 

"I will say it has been a true balancing act to have young kids at home to focus strictly on work. Andrew and I very much want to make our kids' learning a priority. We recognize they are missing school, their teachers and their peers.  It is important to us to keep them academically active. I am grateful to feel supported by family, colleagues and leadership at Keystone AEA to make remote work a viable and productive option," she said. 

Andrew Reimer

Andrew began his career in January 2002. He graduated in 1998 from University of Northern Iowa with a double major in Economics and Political Science.

"The biggest reason we are both able to work through this is because of technology. We live in Garnavillo and a few years back Alpine Communications put the fastest Internet in the world here." He added, "The other reason we are able to operate from home now is because we started the paperless process in our office in Guttenberg when we moved locations in February 2017. Four years ago any documentation I needed I'd have to go grab a physical file to find what I needed. Now I just go to our digital storage and obtain the information I need."

"Nikole Hoeger, office manager, organizes all of our files, and Deb Bries, office assistant, takes care of scanning them into the system. All of the credit goes to Nikole and Deb for taking care of it. It has been a wonderful transition," he shared with gratitude. 

"The other way we are able to operate from home is because our office phone is being forwarded directly to Nikole's cell. We also have an internal system with New York Life that allows us to communicate and complete tasks. Truthfully, our new office was designed to transition the business to the next generation without a single piece of paper. Obviously some documents need to be originals so we are monitoring the mail on a regular basis. Most of our meeting are done via Zoom, but I would still prefer to meet with my clients in person rather than via conference call or Zoom. One other simple thing that makes working from home easy is as simple as a phone and an ear piece!" he exclaimed. 

Keeping their children engaged in learning and outdoor activities has been a top priority for the couple. "Our children are still reading daily and Mindy is making sure to set up homework for them. We are able to document the assignments and submit the work completed to their teachers. They are also spending a significant amount of time in the backyard between the trampoline and the playhouse. From the 'desk' at the kitchen table we are able to watch them, and they are very well aware of the rules!" he said with authority. 

They concluded, "Be patient, we will get through this. I think we will all appreciate the 'little things' a lot more when this is over."

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