WILLMAR — For Todd Goggleye, who came to Willmar from a Twin Cities school, the generosity of Willmar businesses and individuals has been a pleasant surprise.
The Kennedy Elementary School principal handed out about 260 coupons for Dairy Queen ice cream cones after Willmar’s spring break. Each child whose parents certified that they had worked on test practice exams during spring break received a free cone.
Dairy Queen owners in Willmar and Spicer cooperated on the venture.
Goggleye said he hasn’t seen this before in his career.
“I am just impressed with what the community does to reach out,” Goggleye said. “In the city, in the metro, you just don’t get that.”
Both of Willmar’s elementary schools have developed school turnaround plans after they were judged to need improvement in addressing achievement gaps between minority and white students.
When school officials talked about the schools’ challenges in summer 2012, they said the entire community needed to be involved in the effort to turn around the schools.
Goggleye and Roosevelt Principal Nathan Cox said they have been pleased with the level of volunteering and the generosity they have seen.
Both schools have received significant grants from Jennie-O Turkey Store in recent years for technology, media centers and science programs.
It’s not just the large donations they’re talking about, though. Cox and Goggleye said they have received many gifts for the schools, large and small.
A church sent checks to be used to thank the staff for their hard work at testing time. “We don’t pat each on the back enough,” Cox said. “Just a little thing like that goes a long way.”
They also frequently receive many smaller donations and offers of food or coffee for meetings.
“We’ve been trying to have the community be part of this,” Goggleye said, and it seems to be working.
Cox said he sees 15 to 20 volunteers a day in Roosevelt, and he has noticed that it has increased in the past couple years. He sees local businesses looking for ways to be involved in the schools.
“Maybe we’re getting better at getting the word out,” he said.