Thursday afternoon at , a group of writing coaches from gathered to teach a group of eager young students how to create a literary magazine.
"I like writing and I like little kids," said Lauren MacDonald, a writing coach and senior from Minnetonka High. "So it's a fun way to combine the two."
The writing coaches and students eagerly bounced ideas off one other. Once that process was complete, the Scenic Heights students got to work on their individual pieces as MacDonald and the other writing coaches provided tips on how to make their imaginations come to life on paper.
"You see a lot of new things when you're a writing coach," MacDonald said. "You see how people approach writing. I learned different techniques that I wouldn't have thought of myself."
MacDonald — and the Scenic Heights students — have this opportunity because of The Writing Center at Minnetonka High School, a program made possible by the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation.
"The foundation is a non-profit that puts money back into the Minnetonka Public Schools," said Joanne Olds, a foundation trustee. "The mission of the foundation is to fund innovative, educational programs in our schools and in our communities."
The Writing Center is just one of those programs. Over the years, the foundation trustees have purchased smart boards and Kindles for various classrooms throughout the district, and they have provided teachers with grant money.
Saturday Feb. 5, the foundation will host its largest fundraiser of the year, The Dream Makers Dinner. Olds estimates about 600 parents, teachers, administrators and members of the community will make their way to the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington to take part in the event.
For $60, each person in attendance will have the opportunity to eat food provided by different Minnetonka restaurants, participate in a live and silent auction, win a two year lease on a BMW, and, most importantly, help out a good cause.
"This is our 8th year, and at some point during the evening this year, we will surpass the million dollar mark," Olds said. "So the theme this year, we're calling it the 'Night of a Million Dreams.'"
Olds says that $1 million figure is the cumulative total of how much money the foundation has raised since the Dream Makers Dinner first began in 2003.
"And this is net proceeds," Olds said.
The Writing Center is the largest beneficiary of those funds. The money helps to keep someone staffed at The Writing Center full-time. Maggie Shea, the Writing Center coordinator, acknowledges that if it were not for the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation, The Writing Center would not exist.
"It was their idea," Shea said of the foundation's trustees. "They had a short list of projects they were going to work on, and this ended up as no. 1 because it could reach so many different students."
On a busy day, Shea says about 100-150 students go to The Writing Center to seek assistance in how to become better writers.
"That's what we try to keep our focus on," she said. "And to internalize all the strategies that good writers use."
Those strategies are what put MacDonald in the position to share her skills with the students from Scenic Heights Elementary.
Saturday, MacDonald will be at the Dream Makers Dinner acting as a volunteer. Her efforts will allow future Minnetonka students to follow in her footsteps and teach others how to become better writers for years to come.