A lifetime of service to schools, teachers, and students
- Building Community
- Pathways & Partnerships
How Vicki Roy took volunteering as a parent to new heights in District 191
For many parents, finding time to volunteer at their child’s school can be a tricky but extremely rewarding experience. Volunteers get to see first-hand what their children are working on and get to know the dedicated staff. Vicki Roy is someone who has taken volunteering to a new level over the past 40 years in District 191, first just helping out in her daughter’s classroom and gradually finding her passion and representing the district through decades of service.
Vicki and her husband moved their family to Burnsville around 45 years ago thinking that it would be a great place to raise their kids. As a stay at home mom, Vicki wanted to use some of her time to volunteer at school. While her oldest daughter was attending Nicollet Elementary, she got started after some encouragement from a group lovingly known as “The Burnsville Ladies,” first as a room mom, and then started the first Parent Teacher Organization for the school.
“I was fortunate to have encouragement from my husband and others to start the PTO and then the district decided that moving parents together in a PTO committee across the district would be a good idea,” said Vicki. “We got to know one another and learned about the different schools and worked to find ways to work together and benefit all schools.”
She was instrumental in efforts to pass an operating levy referendum in 1988, where she had to pay about $20 in long distance charges while on a trip out of the country to hear the results that the levy had passed. Vicki was growing her network within the school district while also making connections with a variety of leaders from different schools. She soon started getting asked to represent the district for different organizations through the city, county, and intermediate school district.
Vicki represented District 191 on the Community Action Council, an organization that helps people in need in a variety of ways including meals, services, and connections, as well as on the Burnsville Economic Growth Committee and the Dakota County International Trade Committee over the years. That wasn’t all. Over her time volunteering for the district, and later as a school board member, Vicki represented the district on U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad’s Education Advisory Committee, as an ambassador for public education for the Minnesota School Boards Association, Community Conversations, 360 Communities, Burnsville Promise Committee, and more locally and beyond.
Vicki ran for school board in 1992 and served for 17 years, six of them as chair. She served on other groups as well, including the metropolitan school board, always finding ways to spread the news about Burnsville and the schools in District 191. She represented the district well and taught those she worked with and her own family about using your voice and talents to make an impact. Vicki’s daughter Monique Funches now teaches math at Nicollet Middle School. Growing up, she got to watch her mom try a variety of different initiatives that all involved serving schools and students.
“She started seeking out other opportunities wanting to play a bigger role,” said Funches. “We knew she was very capable of being on the school board and we were supportive. She was just such a fierce advocate for education and still is to this day. There were probably some times when board members saw her more than we did, but we knew she was always willing to go to bat and fight for what was right.”
Through her work with the Minnesota School Board Association, Vicki met representatives from districts all over the state and found that being able to work together and compare issues was so helpful. She also found opportunities for community partnerships after hearing from other districts.
“I loved connecting with those folks from other districts and finding interesting ideas that we could build on and expand in our district,” said Vicki. “I feel like I get to play. I have had so many people who are so willing to do things but don’t quite know how to do them. Because of my opportunities in the very beginning and good encouragement, I know some people and can help to solve a variety of problems.”
Dr. DeeDee Currier took over as Principal at Nicollet Elementary, where Vicki was one of her first PTO presidents. After retiring as principal, she decided to run for a seat on the school board after Vicki left the board. Vicki helped counsel Dr. Currier through the process of running and ultimately serving on the board.
“Vicki has a very smooth style and she is able to stay calm in the waves of distress,” said Dr. Currier. “She has such an inner commitment to her community and was able to communicate and make connections that I really think benefited our kids as a board member and beyond. She wore so many hats over the years.”
Some of these connections led to an important initiative, Foundation 191, which provides funds directly to schools for items not covered in regular funding sources, as well as the community scholarship program where more than 50 individuals and organizations give out scholarships each year. Vicki was able to connect some local business representatives and professionals together that has impacted the lives of so many students and their families.
Vicki also found ways to directly support students and staff in the schools. Hoping to help free up teachers for other work, she volunteered to proctor ACT and AP tests at the high school and has been doing so for the past 30 years. She was able to connect with students and hear about their plans for the future, giving her work over the last decades some real meaning.
Other programs that Vicki helped to start are still going strong. Read for the Record is a national initiative that aims to have as many children as possible hear the same book on the same day. Since 2010, Vicki has been instrumental in having community members read the book to students and keeping track of the numbers. A summer tradition since 2012 in Burnsville is the Rocking Readers program where events take place around the community including a concert in the park. A rocking chair is set up and elementary school principals and others read to children leading to connections with the schools and reaching children throughout the community.
“She is so passionate about her projects,” said Dr. Currier. “Her commitment to the district and the variety of all of the activities that she did is so incredible. I wish every school district had a Vicki Roy. Minnesota would have an unstoppable school system if every district had a Vicki.”
Vicki was also tagged to help start the BHS Hall of Fame which recognizes the achievements of people associated with the school from alumni to staff and active community members. She enjoyed getting to see how people from the school are succeeding and still being active in the community including the Mayor of Savage, and prominent business leaders. Vicki herself was inducted in the fall of 2021 for her years of service to the school district.
“I know I can’t possibly fill her shoes and even in retirement, she continues to make sure she is still involved and actively engaged,” said Funches. “That speaks to her passion for what she does. She raised us with the mentality that you are part of a community and it’s your job to make sure you make the community the best it can be. She lives that every day.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a few of the ways that Vicki has volunteered with the district, she remains dedicated to continuing her work and continuing to share the exciting stories coming out of the district with others.
“I will volunteer as long as I can in any shape or form that I can. I hope to never stop,” said Vicki. “I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life. I get so much more than I give and am so fortunate to have been a part of the district all these years. I hope that we can continue to have community volunteers who can give back to the schools and interact with our wonderful students.”
“People have recognized the work I have done over the years, but it’s not recognizing me, it’s recognizing the people I know and that I have connected to help our school. I get to have all the fun.” - Vicki Roy
Some of Vicki’s Achievements over the year include:
- 1989 NSVP Finalist for Outstanding National School Volunteer
- 1989 Community Action Council (now 360 Communities) Gratitude Award
- 1989 Burnsville Chamber and Burnsville Jaycees Outstanding Volunteer Service Award
- Eleven Who Care Volunteer Service Award
- 1992 Outstanding Service to Burnsville Soccer Award
- 1999 Crystal Apple Award from Boy Scouts of America Viking Council Learning for Life Committee
- 2000-2008 Service to City of Burnsville Economic Growth Committee Award
- 2002 All State School Board
- 2005 National School Public Relations Outstanding Communicator Award
- 2005 City of Burnsville Community Builder Award
- 2012 Minnesota School Board 20 Year Service Award
- 2014 City of Burnsville Community Builder Award
- 2015-16 John Coskran Volunteer Award
- 2021 Inductee into the BHS Hall of Fame