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 — Learning English, adjusting to a new culture, learning American history — Willmar Middle School teacher Ann Hendershott knew it was a tall order for some of her Somali students. And she knew just where to turn for some assistance. The solution was as near as her own family full of teachers. Frances Hendershott, 79, a retired first-grade teacher and Ann’s mother, comes to the Middle School every school day to help Somali students in her daughter’s eighth-grade history class.
WILLMAR — When it’s time to talk about the Great Depression in teacher Ann Hendershott’s eighth-grade history class, it’s time to grab an iPad. Hendershott’s iBook on the Depression covers the same material as her students’ textbooks and adds audio files, videos and photo galleries.
Many schools in west central Minnesota will be closing early today due to the weather conditions. The area is under a winter storm watch until Thursday, with a combination of rain, sleet and snow forecast over the next couple days. The National Weather Service has predicted snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches today for west central Minnesota, with another 2 to 4 inches possible tonight. Another 1 to 3 inches are possible on Wednesday.
WILLMAR — In the past, students who didn’t speak English at Willmar Senior High needed to learn the language to “unlock” all the learning they had experienced. In the past six years, “we have students (arriving) that do not have a history of education,” Senior High Principal Paul Schmitz told the Willmar School Board Monday. Schmitz spoke with the board about a plan for improving achievement at the Senior High and explained some of the school’s past test scores. “The snapshot doesn’t tell the whole picture,” he said.
WILLMAR — The FIRST Robotics team from Willmar Senior High is waiting to find out if it will be invited to statewide competition in just its second year of competition. The Willmar team, No. 4239 WARP SPEED, was in an alliance that fell just short of winning in regional competition last weekend on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. Scores from the four regional competitions will determine who is invited back to the statewide competition in May. Teams will hear in the next couple weeks if they qualified for the state meet.
WILLMAR — Ridgewater College will celebrate a “Building Breaking” for its $14 million remodeling project at 11 a.m. Friday in front of the Student Services Building on the college’s Willmar campus. The construction and remodeling project has been in the works for several years. A first phase was completed several years ago, but the second phase was dropped from two successive bonding bills before winning final approval in 2012. The project includes expanding and improving facilities for agriculture and veterinary technician programs.
WILLMAR — The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the board room on the first floor of the Willmar Education and Arts Center, 611 Fifth St. S.W. The agenda includes the recall of nearly 50 of the 80 non-tenured teachers who were notified last month that they would be laid off. School officials said at the time that many of the teachers would likely be recalled once the district had a better idea of what its needs would be for next year.
WILLMAR — Juan Raul Cardenas, 38, of Willmar, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday for repeatedly molesting a young girl at a Willmar residence. Cardenas was convicted of two counts of second-degree and two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after a court trial before Judge Stephanie Beckman in Kandiyohi County District Court. According to Beckman’s conviction order, the girl, who is now 15, testified that the abuse happened when she was 11 to 12 years ago at a Willmar residence. She told an adult about the abuse in July 2012.
Ten years ago, a newcomer might have thought Willmar’s downtown was going downhill. That may have been the right impression then, but a lot has changed. Through the work of some ambitious non-profit organizations and a mixture of long-term and new businesses, downtown Willmar is a vibrant, busy place again. “I think it’s a big success story downtown,” said Beverly Dougherty, director of The Design Center in downtown Willmar and also a business owner downtown. The Design Center is a nonprofit working to revitalize downtown Willmar.
Public schools are always introducing new technology for their students. At one time, it meant film strips, then films, then televisions, then computers, then smart white boards, now iPads. It’s all part of the need to stay current on technology to prepare young people for the world they’ll find beyond high school.