I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District Mandarin Chinese program will participate in two U.S. State Department programs in the coming year. The district will host a teacher from China for the 2011-12 school year, and Chinese teacher Todd Lynum will participate in an intensive study program in China this summer. It will be the second time in three years Willmar has been chosen to host a teacher through the State Department's Teachers of Critical Languages Program. The program pays for all expenses for the visiting teachers.
WILLMAR -- When she became a principal, Patti Dols moved from being a junior high band director to an administrator. In some ways, the jobs required similar skills. "It's really a lot like being the band director," she said. "You've got all these different sections, and you have a vision for how it should go, ... and you need to get everybody to work together." Dols will retire at the end of the school year after 34 years in education.
WILLMAR -- The state budget bills approved by the Legislature before it adjourned Monday night could have been disastrous for the state's hospitals. Now that Gov.
WILLMAR -- For some area businesses, the high school graduation season can be as busy as Christmastime, maybe even busier. At The Paper Place in Willmar, owner Deb Lenz has arranged napkins, plates, confetti, balloons and table covers in a rainbow of colors.
WILLMAR -- If you can't figure out which letter of the alphabet goes with which animal, it's nice to have a friend nearby. A new SMART Table at Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar gives kindergarteners a chance to work together to solve those and other challenging assignments at school. Roosevelt has used a variety of donations to acquire two of the multi-user, interactive tables for its kindergarten classes. After having a table for just a few weeks, teachers are finding new ways to use it all the time. "We're just scratching the surface so far," said Sue Olson.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District was insulated from the impact of last year's budget cuts through a one-time infusion of more than $900,000 in federal money. However, most of that money is now gone. The district spent $737,000 this year to hire classroom teachers to keep a lid on class sizes.
Isaac Koenen had never touched an iPad before. When his teacher Kathy Stalnaker put hers on the table in front of him, Isaac was silent for a moment, and his fingers stretched toward the screen. The MACCRAY High School freshman said, "That's amazing." He never lifted his eyes from the iPad. Tyler Miller, also a freshman, slid over to have a look.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School Board has OK'd a contract with board member Linda Mathiasen to do public communications work for the district. The board approved the contract unanimously Monday, with Mathiasen abstaining. The approval came after a woman representing a local conservative group objected to the arrangement. The board's contract with Mathiasen hires her as an independent contractor to produce a public information flier for the operating levy election planned for this fall.
WILLMAR -- Two ethnic groups will celebrate significant dates in their history with festivals in the area this weekend. Syttende Mai recognizes Norway's May 17 declaration of independence and the triumph of constitutional government. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The fifth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Willmar Middle School on Willmar Avenue.
WILLMAR -- Squad cars in Willmar and Kandiyohi County will soon have a new life-saving device on board, thanks to a donation to Ridgewater College. County Sheriff Dan Hartog said the Minnesota-made ResQPod should be particularly helpful for his deputies, who are often the first at the scene of a medical emergency and miles away from the nearest medical assistance. "This is another important tool," along with the automated external defibrillators and oxygen they already carry, he said. The ResQPod is a small, clear plastic cylindrical device placed on a mask to help a patient breathe during