Mayra Duncan began working for the Logan County Board of Education on November 23, 2009, as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor. While working in this capacity, she was asked by the Migrant Advocate to help recruit Hispanic families and Out of School Youth (OSY) in the county. After a period of time Ms. Duncan was hired as a full time recruiter for the Logan County Migrant Educational program where she is currently employed.
As the migrant recruiter Mayra’s responsibilities are endless. In her position she recruits H-2A workers ages 16-21, who are here in Logan County working in the agricultural industry. The H-2A program allows U.S. employees who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. As a recruiter, she also recruits families who have children that enroll in the Logan County school district. In her role, she helps the families and the Out-of-School Youth (OSY) integrate into the county culture and into the school system by providing instructional materials and teaching them to learn English and adapt to their new environment. She also helps the farmers by providing interpretation services to assist with communication between the farmers and their workers. Mayra has a great relationship with all of the people that she works with; the farmers, the workers and the businesses in the community.
“Mayra Duncan and the Logan County Migrant Educational Program provide a most worthwhile and valuable service to our young H2A employees, and therefore to us, the employers as well,” said Phil Holliday. “Holliday Tobacco raises 70 plus acres of tobacco in southern Logan County and currently employs fourteen H2A employees from Mexico. They leave their homes and families to come here not only for a better wage to provide for themselves and their loved ones but also to learn as much as they can about the language and culture. For nearly twenty years we did our best to take care of our employee’s needs but obviously the language barrier presented many challenges. Mayra has proven to be both a asset and ally to our employees and to us. Mayra visits our employees and establishes relationships. She shares educational materials and opportunities and trust is developed. With her assistance they are better prepared to navigate our culture with confidence and success.”
Mayra does such an outstanding job with the Migrant Education Program within the district and is recognized throughout the migrant central region as a leader and top recruiter. During her tenor as the migrant recruiter, Mayra has served 45 families, 90 students and over 122 OSY in addition to working with over 25 farmers in Logan County. She was asked and presented two sessions at the Annual Kentucky Migrant Education Fall Academy. One session was entitled Using Social Media to Engage OSY and the other was The Missing LINK: Recruiting and Relationship Building, focused on strategies to help develop positive relationships with area farmers.
Mayra moved to the United States 22 years ago from Puerto Rico. At the time, she could not speak any English. She taught herself to speak and understand English by reading books, including a dictionary. Mayra had several jobs that helped her learn the English language. She always had the desire to learn the language well enough so that she could begin to pursue a college degree. What really changed and sparked the motivation for her to do so, was when she was hired to work with the Logan County School District as an ESL Bilingual instructor. She worked with several people within the school district who encouraged and motivated her even more to pursue a college degree. While working in the schools she realized how important education was and the many doors that could be opened through obtaining a degree. In August of 2010, she decided to go back to school and further her education, so she enrolled at Mid-Continent University and started her Associate’s Degree. In January 2013, she completed the Associate Degree in Science. After completing her associate’s degree, Mayra realized that she was capable of doing so much more; therefore, she decided to further her education, so later in the same year she decided to enroll at Campbellsville University to work on her bachelor’s degree. While still working both part-time and full-time and taking care of her family, Mayra received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree on August 22, 2015. After obtaining her degree, she encouraged her husband to pursue his degree, as well. Mayra is also a certified interpreter for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and has taught beginning Spanish classes for Community Education in Russellville.
Along with her dedication to her job as the migrant recruiter for Logan County Schools, she still finds time to be very active in the community by being involved and serving on several committees such as the Family Consumer Science Committee with the Logan County Extension Office, the Adult Ed Strategic Long Range Planning Committee, the Expertise Committee for the Kentucky Migrant Program and being part of the Monitoring Team for the Kentucky Migrant Program. She also participates in the Logan County Jail Ministry.
“When I look back and see where I started from, all I can do is give God the glory,” Mayra Duncan said. “I used to think that there were so many things that were impossible for me until I moved to Logan County and started to work for Logan County schools. Then I learned that there is no such thing as impossible, but that I’m possible. With the help and support of my family, my employer, coworkers, church and many members of this community, I was able to recognize, see and embrace all of the possibilities ahead of me. I have learned so much here while at Logan County Schools. I am living proof that regardless of where you come from or your background, there are a lot of possibilities and that Logan County indeed is a great place to learn”. —Mayra Duncan
Mayra is married to Minister Joe Duncan and they have a 9-year old son, Samuel and five stepchildren. They are faithful members of the Bread of Life Church in Russellville.