Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A rural Minnesota teacher takes action when her students need books May 12, 2016

This prairie chicken statue celebrates the real prairie chickens which reside in the Rothsay area.

This prairie chicken statue celebrates the real prairie chickens which reside in the Rothsay area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, May 2013.

FORTY MILES EAST of Fargo, an 18-foot tall, 9,000-pound statue marks Rothsay as The Prairie Chicken Capital of Minnesota. Without the kitschy roadside attraction, travelers likely would consider this just another small town along Interstate 94.

Downtown Rothsay is ag-oriented. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

Downtown Rothsay is ag-oriented. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, May 2013.

A few years ago, I popped into Rothsay. It’s your typical Minnesota farming community with a farmers co-op, hardware store, a bank, automotive body and repair shop, and such. And, if it’s lucky, as Rothsay is, a still surviving public school.

From what I observed, this is an historic blacksmith shop, not a working one. Note the bikes in the background parked outside the public school.

When I visited Rothsay three years ago, the school sat behind this historic blacksmith shop. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, May 2013.

In the three years since I visited this Wilkin County community, a new school has been built. But there’s a problem, specifically in the Media Center. A shortage of books exists for high school students.

This graphic comes from the gofundme page.

This graphic of book covers comes from the gofundme page.

Now Kristie Sullivan, an English Language Arts teacher who returned to her hometown to teach, has established a gofundme page to fund the purchase of books for high schoolers. She’s seeking $5,000 for titles ranging from classics like The Catcher in the Rye to the current-day popular The Hunger Games.

I can’t think of anything in education more important than books. They are the foundation tool of learning. If you can read, you can learn.

I understand the situation Ms. Sullivan faces. Years ago, when my children were attending a Christian day school in Faribault, I volunteered in the library. There was no funding for library books. So I had to get creative. New books came through cash gifts, a birthday book program, rewards from an annual book sale and from a used book drive. I also purchased many books at garage sales. I’d like to think I made a difference in getting books to students.

Kudos to this young teacher for caring so much about her students that she set up this gofundme page. Such action shows me she is passionate about teaching. And when a teacher is passionate, kids learn. Really learn.

FYI: If you are interested in supporting this gofundme project to buy books for Rothsay High School students, click here.

(h/t Fargo Forum)

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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18 Responses to “A rural Minnesota teacher takes action when her students need books”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the huge prairie chicken, of course, But the story of a teacher creating a Go Fund Me for new books is a wonderful thing. I have donated through DonorChoose many times which helps teachers with specific projects in their classrooms. I actually even helped with a project that one of my best friends from high school posted for her kindergarten class. The fun part of the DonorsChoose program is that the kids write you thank you notes which are priceless. Good luck to Ms. Sullivan on her quest to put books in the hands of many students. Great cause.

  2. Marcie Says:

    Thanks for highlighting the needs of teachers everywhere. She is not alone in finding sources for needed materials to teach from others. My district doesn’t allow GoFundMe but it lets us write DonorsChoose grants. I’ve had several funded this year including one for crayons and folders.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    Great statue. MN has so many of these. I would really like to do something similar to Monumental Minnesota [book] and travel around the state photographing all of these unique statues and advise their history. I haven’t seen this one yet; thanks for sharing.

  4. Beth Says:

    Thank you for the school book write up. Inspired me to donate.

  5. Kudos! I have organized a book drive for a literacy council and received over 400 books. We are currently doing a children’s book drive at work. My mom is a retired teacher and I know she paid for things over her 30 year career out of her own pocket at times. The one organization I worked for we actually did a office supplies clean out and donated to the local school district – amazing the promotional items just collecting dust like folders, pencils, rulers, etc. I will have to check out her Go Fund Me Page. Thanks for sharing. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Sue Ready Says:

    ks What a wonderful format for giving and supporting literacy. Thanks for the posting.

  7. That’s a great idea. I just might have to mention that for our small town school. The school/public library is less than desirable

  8. Gunny Says:

    I LOVE Books! Forget the Kindles, Ipads or whatever electronic device these can be kept on, or even “bookmarking” stuff found on the web (which can be a great resource). My wife is constantly after me to get rid of some of my books! I have been known to give them away but I am getting down to the precious “few” (about 800) that I would rather give to someone who would appreciate them. I have a couple even the San Antonio library does not have!
    One is a copy of Elizabeth Koren’s (wife of Rev. U. V Koren) diary she kept for her first two years in America describing sailing from Norway, traveling in the US and settling in or around Decorah, Iowa and her experiences here.


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