Attorney Katie Pivec of Mounds View has vivid memories of Take Our Daughters to Work Day, held annually on the fourth Thursday of April. One year, she went downtown with a friend whose dad was a lawyer. Another year, she and a friend traveled on a city bus driven by the friend’s dad.
But the coolest day, hands-down, was when Katie was a sixth-grader. She got to hang out with the popular basketball coach at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), who also taught a first-responder class. Katie practiced compressions on a grown-up and infant doll. She took a yoga class and ate lunch in the college cafeteria.
Her review of the day? “Awesome.” Her tour guide for the day was awesome, too. His name is Jay Pivec, aka Dad.
Now the 33-year-old is teaching a course at MCTC, too. “It’s a really great tradition,” said Katie.
She and her father have many of the same students.
Katie, an adjunct professor who teaches constitutional law, was recently honored by MCTC for the positive difference she makes in students’ lives.
“It started in sixth grade,” Jay said proudly. “She’s loving it and the students love her.” Then he joked, “I’ve been here 27 years and never been nominated.”
He’s really not complaining. It was his idea that Katie consider the part-time teaching position about five years ago. A University of Minnesota Law School graduate specializing in real estate law, she was reluctant at first to teach the heady Constitution.
“It was an area in which I hadn’t practiced,” she said. “It required me to learn a lot, and it did seem to be a lot to take on with a full-time job.” (She didn’t even have her twins, who are now 16 months old.)
On the other hand, she said, “I thought it would be a fulfilling thing to do, both intellectually to challenge myself to become an expert in that area, and socially — to help me with public speaking.”
She has as many as 50 students per semester, many of them enrolled in the college’s TRIO Starting Point Program, the mission of which is to boost graduation rates of low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities.
She’s OK if they bring a baby to class. She doles out extra credit to students who sing their group presentations.
And she practices what she preaches. She teaches the commerce clause, for example, to the tune of “Let It Go.”
“Only about five students have ever sung songs,” she said with a laugh.
But they certainly do respond to her. Clay Jones, 55, is in the TRIO program, studying to be a probation officer. He’s the one who nominated Katie for the teaching honor. Teacher and student attended the “Celebrate Success” luncheon earlier this month, where she joined about 20 other teachers receiving certificates of appreciation.
“I had no idea … First Amendment, Second Amendment. I learned all that from her!” said Jones, of Columbia Heights. “She’s a wonderful instructor [in] a subject that will help me a lot in achieving my goal.”
Jones also took Jay’s emergency responder class. “Both are wonderful instructors,” said Jones, who graduates in May.
Jay, a Hall of Fame coach at MCTC, now coaches basketball for the University of St. Thomas, but still has a leadership role at the community college as a faculty steward.
Katie said MCTC students who find out that they are father and daughter often comment that they have the same teaching methods. That cracks her up. Jay jokes that he denies being related to Katie.
“It’s full circle,” said TRIO Support Services Director Jennifer Brookins-King.
“Jay has been of great service to this college, and now his daughter has the ability to continue this legacy of learning. I’m so proud of them both.”
National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is the successor to Take Our Daughters to Work Day which, in 2003, was expanded to include boys. Last week, as the long-ago anniversary of their special day approached, Katie felt nostalgic.
“Do you remember?” she asked her dad. OK, he didn’t. “Fill me in,” he asked her.
She remembers thinking as a sixth-grader that “it would be fun to go to work with my dad. I knew he was at MCTC. It was definitely a lot darker then, more industrial-looking, but, wow! This is college. College students everywhere. It seemed huge. I thought I would be lost if I wasn’t with my dad.”
One day, she’d like to take her twin girls to work with her. “I would hope that they understand from that visit that I’m doing something that is worthwhile and kind of important. I would hope that they would be inspired to go out and do whatever it is they want to do.”
And if that happens to be teaching at MCTC, they’d have her blessing, and their grandfather’s, too.