Winter 2017 Life Changer: Holly Magdanz

The Hopkins One Voice Coalition is committed to advocating for student wellness and reducing youth substance abuse, and leading that charge is Coalition Coordinator Holly Magdanz. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Magdanz’s father was a teacher, who instilled at an early age understanding for empathy and an appreciation for the “complexities surrounding health and wellness” of students. Now in her fourth year at Hopkins, she is instrumental in creating an environment that not only supports students but also prepares them for success after high school.

“So many elements that impact our life-long health and wellness are rooted in patterns and opportunities started in childhood and adolescence,” Magdanz said. “I believe that parents, families, schools, and the community all have a role in helping to educate and provide opportunities for youth to gain skills and a solid toolkit for how they can grow into a healthy adulthood.” 

Recently, Magdanz pioneered a parenting series focused on teen driving safety, student mental health, and responsible digital citizenship. She also coordinates the administration of the Minnesota Student Survey, which identifies important issues for students today. And her work with the coalition has forged partnerships with various District staff and students, as well as community officials, to promote healthy youth development.

“Holly has made Hopkins Public Schools and our surrounding communities a leader in addressing adolescent chemical use and prevention and advocacy for mental health,” said Jane Kleinman, high school health science teacher and District health curriculum coordinator. “She is always positive and enthusiastic and provides a tremendous amount of background knowledge and support for our students wellness committee and the initiatives they work on.”

Through Magdanz’s leadership, the One Reason campaign has become a staple initiative at Hopkins High School. She helped start the movement with local organization Community Blueprint to raise awareness of the fact that most Hopkins students do not drink alcohol, and to promote this safe culture. As a school, they created a mural that hangs in the cafeteria as a reminder of the students’ commitment to living substance free.

“We enjoy serving on Hopkins One Voice because of Holly’s leadership and drive to provide our District and communities with innovative educational opportunities, support, and advocacy,” Kleinman said. 

Background: Magdanz has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Carleton College, and two master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota, one in public health and the other in social work. She started working at Hopkins in 2013 and is a lifelong resident of Minneapolis. 

What do you love most about working at Hopkins Public Schools? First and foremost, I love that Hopkins is a diverse and welcoming community. The many staff, parents, and community members who are active in the One Voice Coalition are so amazing and inspiring.  I also am really proud of our District leaders for seeing the importance of prevention work. Hopkins values the “whole” child, and really works to connect the dots between health, wellness, and learning. Finally, I am proud to build on a tradition of excellence within the coalition. Hopkins Public Schools and the One Voice Coalition are seen as statewide leaders for its evolving and progressive work in substance abuse prevention. 

Proudest moment? I am really proud to work under Katie Williams, director of community education. She is a tireless advocate for the importance of the work of the One Voice coalition. She has encouraged me to grow, run with new ideas, and is unwaveringly supportive as we continue to build on the work of the coalition.

Crowning achievements. I am really proud of the One Reason campaign, which was started to increase awareness that most students at Hopkins High School do not drink alcohol. We saw in the Minnesota Student Survey a change in perception of peer alcohol use—students in the most recent survey reported thinking that fewer of their peers drink at all, or drink regularly, compared to three years before, which is a really positive finding.

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