Making a connection

The Purringtons feel the pride in the Marshall community

Submitted photo Rick and Heather Purrington have two children, Juliann, 10, and Brooklyn, 6, whom they are happy to raise in Marshall, the small town they, themselves grew up in. Rick and Heather also enjoy their positions in education and Rick’s involvement in coaching the Tiger Speech Team.

Editor’s Note: This story is the fourth in a series that reflect the contributions made by Marshall High School graduates when they returned to the community.

MARSHALL — Finding life in large cities less congenial than rural Minnesota towns, Rick and his wife, Heather (Pratt) Purrington, returned home to Marshall to raise a family.

“We’re both originally from Marshall,” Rick said. “Heather graduated from Marshall High School in 1992. She currently works at Park Side Elementary.”

After graduating MHS, Rick and Heather received their education at different colleges. Rick attended Concordia College in Moorhead, earning a bachelor of arts degree in political science. Then he went to Minnesota State in Mankato to earn a master of arts degree in educational leadership.

Heather attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, earning a BA in elementary education.

From 1999-2007, Rick taught social studies and coached the speech team at Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Heather worked in Minneapolis as a corporate buyer for Diversified Distribution Systems.

“After our first daughter was born in 2006, we wanted to be closer to our families who live in Marshall,” Rick said, “We also wanted to live in a town where the people felt a common connection to each other. In the Twin Cities suburbs, we felt like there was very little connection or stake into the community. We never quite felt an attachment to where we lived. In Marshall, we feel that pride in our community.”

Purrington said that his mom, his brother Rob’s family and Heather’s parents all live in Marshall.

The Purringtons are both into teaching. Rick has been the social studies teacher and the Tiger Speech Team coach at MHS since 2008. Heather has been working at Park Side Elementary as a kindergarten aide since 2012.

Purrington said he gets his greatest pleasure in developing the speech competition for the Marshall community.

“Running the annual Marshall Speech Spectacular high school speech tournament and growing it into one of the largest speech tournaments in the Midwest is something I’m very proud of. It’s a community event that draws lots of people to our town. Teams that come are always impressed with our tournament’s hospitality and venues,” he said.

“More importantly, it’s an academic tournament where kids are competing in an intellectual way while grooming an incredibly important skill. This shows that while our town enjoys hosting lots of sporting events, we also can say that we host other diverse events, too. The community’s support for this tournament has been essential to its success.

“Without Schwan’s beginning support, and now the Carr Family Foundation, and SMSU continuing it, the tournament couldn’t happen.”

Purrington said the most satisfying thing about having returned to Marshall is feeling pride in the community.

“We enjoy contributing to the town we grew up in,” he said. “Marshall is a town that isn’t content with sitting idle and watching the world pass it by. People in Marshall seek progress and growth and being a part of that kind of town is inspiring and important to us.”

For Heather, it’s also about leaving a legacy of community to their own children.

“Raising and watching our daughters grow up in the same small town as Rick and I did is very satisfying,” she said. “Instilling the values and love of community makes us proud knowing that our girls will take that with them whether they stay or leave Marshall.”

The Purringtons have two children, Juliann, 10, and Brooklyn, 6.