Emily McKee ‘Happy to help others’ with children

Photo by Jim Tate Emily McKee poses by a collage showing her four children.

If ever there was a group that embodies the support of education — and facilitates the connection between school and community — it is the Lake Benton Volunteers for Education.

Lake Benton Volunteers for Education was formed to support the pre-K through 6th grade Lake Benton School. It is primarily comprised of parents and grandparents with a goal of supporting public education within the community. She school has an enrollment of 125.

“We work with the Lake Benton School, and assist with funding for different programs and initiatives. Members also physically volunteer to achieve those goals,” said Emily McKee, the secretary of the group’s board of directors.

McKee has been a member of the group “for 7 or 8 years” and has found it rewarding on several fronts. She and her husband, Mitchell, were high school sweethearts in Cottonwood and moved to Lake Benton 13 years ago. They have four children: Lola, a freshman attending high school in Elkton, S.D., just across the border; Lilly, a seventh grader at Elkton; Lyric, a third-grader at Lake Benton; and Luxen, 2.

“I initially joined to meet different people and become involved with what the school and community had to offer,” said McKee. “We were ‘transplants’ when we moved here initially, and I was able to meet so many wonderful people. Now, I’m happy to be able to help others who have children in the school, who may have questions, and who may want to help in their children’s school.”

The group is primarily financed through concession sales at various athletic events at the school. They also receive individual donations.

It’s not a large group, about 15 people. And membership transitions as parents’ children come into the district, and leave. “We are always looking for new members,” she said.

The group’s involvement in the school includes “Moms & Muffins” and “Dads & Donuts” events during the year, snacks for students on state testing days, appreciation events for bus drivers and faculty, Community Education night with games and contests, and supporting the Book Bingo initiative that rewards good school behavior with books from a vending machine.

But it’s more than that. Much more.

Lake Benton Volunteers for Education also awards grants to groups within the school, and community. They support many initiatives within the Lake Benton School that benefit all students, through grants. It’s a rather informal process — a teacher, or group/organization may request financial assistance, and contact the group. The board will then discuss and vote whether to support the request.

“We usually do,” said McKee.

They contribute annually to the community’s summer recreation program, and the town’s summer reading program. They have an informal agreement with Elkton schools to help work their concession stand events, and receive a percentage of the profit from that. They help serve at the Lions Club annual breakfast.

She is an avid supporter of the Lake Benton School.

“I love the school,” she said. “Many of the faculty have been there for years, they know the kids, the families; they are personable, and genuinely care.”

As an example of the caring associated with Lake Benton Volunteers for Education, she points to her pregnancy with her youngest child’s Luxen, 2, born prematurely. That necessitates an extended amount of time away from her job at Sunrise Manor, a part of Avera Hospital in Tyler.

“They sent us Chamber Bucks, to help with groceries. It’s a caring group,” she said.

McKee is ‘all-in’ when it comes to Volunteers for Education and hopes that others come forward to participate. “The members come from all different backgrounds, and we all work together for the good of the school, and the community,” she said.


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