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District 191 staff members are among Burnsville’s Community Builders

Three staff members from Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 were among the recipients of 2015 Community Builder awards presented by the Burnsville City Council on Oct. 20.

Sahro Abdullahi receives her Community Builder Award from Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, council members Dan Kealey, Mary Sherry and Suzanne Nguyen, and city manager Heather Johnston.

Jen Waller and Dave McDevitt receive their Community Builder Award from Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, council members Dan Kealey, Mary Sherry and Suzanne Nguyen, and city manager Heather Johnston.

The awards have been presented annually since 1998 to recognize individuals, groups, or businesses that have made contributions that build community, performed outstanding acts of bravery, or made a lasting impact on the quality of life in the City of Burnsville.

District 191 staff members awarded this year are Sahro Abdullahi, a cultural liaison at Sky Oaks Elementary School in Burnsville, and Jen Waller McDevitt and Dave McDevitt, teachers at Burnsville High School who are founders of #BurnsvilleStrong.

In her job, Abdullahi serves as a vital link between families and the school. But her commitment to Sky Oaks is much more than her job duties. Abdullahi volunteers at school, helping with events like fundraisers and carnivals. She goes to as many PTO meetings as she can and invites parents to join her, which makes them more comfortable about attending. She also volunteers at Burnsville High School, including at events for her son’s Blaze football team. She works to promote and model volunteering in the school and community. She helps families that are new to this country to understand the school district and become part of it. She also shares her Somali culture at international festivals at schools and in the community.

Teachers Jen Waller and David McDevitt took #burnsvillestrong (originally created by students), and brought it to life after several tragedies affected the Burnsville High School community. The movement started with t-shirts, bumper stickers, and a group of caring students. The organization has now grown to include BurnsvilleStrong student mentors, who are being trained on leadership skills throughout the year. The couple has worked tirelessly to bring the community of Burnsville together in good times and bad. They live in the community of Burnsville, are the parents of three children in the school district, and together they teach and coach multiple sports and activities.

Other recipients of 2015 Community Builder Awards include the Burnsville Lions Club, Jodi Congdon, the Golchin family, Bill Johnson, Gary Lally, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and Relay for Life.

For more information on this year’s winners visit

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2015 - 13:04