A visit to Nisswa Elementary School offered a first for Gov. Tim Walz, a former teacher.

“I’ve never been in a school that had a fireplace in the library, ever,” Walz said during a short tour of the building Thursday afternoon, July 22.

Walz and Minnesota Education Commissioner Heather Mueller stopped in Nisswa as part of a statewide education tour to highlight education investments included in Minnesota’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget. That budget includes $1.2 billion for education over four years, including the largest formula increase in 15 years.

Nisswa Elementary School Principal Molly Raske considered the visit an honor.

“It was an honor to host and share the amazing things that are happening at Nisswa Elementary and throughout Brainerd Public Schools with Gov. Walz and Commissioner Dr. Mueller,” she said in an email.

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“I am very proud to be the principal at Nisswa Elementary School and so grateful to have the opportunity to share why with the leaders of our state,” Raske said. “Some of our students were also able to ask questions and interact with them, which was very powerful for them as young citizens and my very favorite part of the day.”

Walz and Mueller - along with Brainerd School District Superintendent Laine Larson, Brainerd School Board members Bob Nystrom and Ruth Nelson, and a contingent of media people - walked out into the school’s playground area where children from the Fun and Friends child care program were playing.


"I’ve never been in a school that had a fireplace in the library, ever."

— Gov. Tim Walz, touring Nisswa Elementary School


Walz apologized for interrupting their play as he shook children’s hands and told them it was nice to meet them.

After posing for group photos, Walz shared remarks in which he praised teachers for looking out for students’ safety and security and for their innovation during a health pandemic to cater to students’ social/emotional needs as well as their educational needs.

Walz said the education dollars in the budget address gaps that existed before and were exacerbated by COVID-19.

“These dollars should make a difference years into the future,” he said, praising funding for summer school.

The pandemic has been a challenge for kids, but they’re resilient, Walz said.


"Some of our students were also able to ask questions and interact with them, which was very powerful for them as young citizens and my very favorite part of the day."

— Molly Raske, Nisswa Elementary School principal


The governor continues to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccinations. He said southern states see spikes during warm weather when people go inside, and warned that for Minnesotans spikes occur when cold weather forces people inside.

When asked last summer what he was most looking forward to when the pandemic ended, Walz said his reply was: “I cannot wait to be back at a school with children laughing and doing what children do, with caring adults around them.”

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.