Mary Dvorak taught in Wayzata schools for 33 years. She was a beloved first grade teacher at Greenwood Elementary before she retired in 2012. Over the years, she also worked at Birchview and Gleason Lake. As I drove to meet with her this morning, I was looking forward to hearing her perspective on the history of the district, our strengths and our current issues.
As anyone who knows Mary can attest, her eyes light up whenever she talks about kids or education. She’s also got that infectious laugh! When I asked her what she sees as district strengths, she talked a lot about solving problems collaboratively and respectfully. In her experiences as a teacher and as a contract negotiator, she observed that a great deal can be accomplished when people remain positive. She described how keeping a positive outcome for our kids as the main focus can help a group with different viewpoints find some common ground.
When asked about critical current issues for the district, Mary said, “We have to keep up with the growth, but that’s a good problem to have”! She told me about a space shortage at Greenwood in 1999. There were enough first graders for seven teachers, but only six rooms available. Mary and her fellow first grade teachers Tina Sheldon and Greg Meyer came up with a creative plan to team-teach and share the space to best meet the needs of their students. Their collaborative idea turned into a huge success for kids. Greenwood’s first grade classes maintain this model of team teaching and shared space to this day.
I think Mary’s story applies to our current district space shortages. As a Wayzata school board member, I will work for creative, student-focused problem solving as we move forward into this time of critical change in our schools. And a positive attitude helps, too. Thanks, Mrs. Dvorak!