Peggy Zimmer, counselor at Wayzata High School, sits at her desk. She’s surrounded by walls filled with inspirational framed art and handwritten notes for students, by students. Her gentle, caring demeanor radiates in her words and actions.
A year ago, Peggy struggled to help students whose families had limited incomes. One of her students, a first generation college student, was accepted at Hamline University in St. Paul, but the 18-year-old needed transportation to and from the campus. “It was heart-wrenching and frustrating. College for this student was not accessible. It was literally one car ride away.”
But this year, because of the Great Expectations Initiative, more students will get plugged into the resources they need to succeed. Thanks to donors supporting a new Great Opportunities (GO) Fund, a core effort of the Great Expectations Initiative, Orono and Wayzata School Districts’ economically disadvantaged students have access to school and community extra-curricular activities.
This year, the story ends differently. One of Peggy’s students dreamed of being the first in her family to graduate high school and the first to go to college. She talked to Peggy about her fast food job. The student noticed her manager did not always order supplies in a timely fashion. They would run out of buns, condiments and cups. Peggy asked, “Have you ever heard of supply chain?” They found an excellent two-year program that provides a Supply Chain Logistics Certificate at St. Paul College. Again, a lack of transportation threatened to derail the student’s dreams. This time, however, the Great Opportunities Fund filled the gap.
Peggy said, “I filled out the application for GO funds for the student to get a cab for her and her mom. She saw all the St. Paul College buildings, talked to admissions and financial aid staff, took an ACCUPLACER test, then got a ride back home. She came into my office and said, ‘I got my schedule for fall. Yeah, this is really happening!’” She will live on a college campus soon. Her proud family is cheering her on every step of the way.
GO funds after-school enrichment classes and clubs, camp programs, tutoring, college application fees, driver’s education and more. These opportunities are often out of reach for some families. Thanks to donors and supporters, economically disadvantaged K-12 kids now have access to more opportunities and are connecting to the power of community resources that ignite their success.