SUPERIOR — A basket of dolls was presented to the Superior School Board during its plenary committee on Monday, April 4.
The toys that display surgical scars, cochlear implants, cleft palates and more, debuted in an early education classroom at Cooper Elementary School that morning.
For a kindergarten student, Ezra, it was a chance to see himself reflected in the classroom.
“The baby has cochlear implants like him and he was, he was totally impressed and the baby spent the day with him,” said Jennifer Willoughby, district director of early childhood and family education.
Three-year-old Alina, who discovered the dolls in Willoughby’s office before they debuted, was expecting one particular baby to come and play.
“She has glasses like her and brown hair and she totally fell in love with her, so was looking forward to playing her,” Willoughby said.
Kashton, another 3-year-old, found a doll with a surgical scar on her chest that looked like hers.
“It is very important to me to create spaces in which all of our children see themselves represented through material and literature; however, it is equally important that children are also exposed to those who are different from them” , Willoughby said.
Board members expressed their appreciation for inclusive toys.
“Representation is important,” said school board member Laura Gapske.
The dolls were purchased through the Carol D. Farmakes Early Education Fund. A lifelong educator who worked for 27 years as a school psychologist for the district, Farmakes spent her final years with the early childhood education program. After his death in 2021, Farmakes’ family decided to establish a fund in his memory through the Superior Scholarship Foundation.
Family and friends helped establish an endowment fund that will enhance the district’s early childhood education program for years to come. According to the family, it was something that would honor his life and leave a lasting legacy.
“It would have tickled Carol Pink to know that this is how we remember her,” said her granddaughter, Nikky Farmakes.
Willoughby discovered the dolls online through a company in the UK.
“When we discovered
had dolls of kids with feeding tubes, insulin pumps, hemangiomas, surgical scars, cochlear implants, cleft palate, down syndrome and so much more, i knew we had to get these dolls for our program,” she said. “The Carol Farmakes Fund seemed like a natural fit to support students with diverse abilities represented in our preschool programs. »
Willoughby requested and received $500 from the new fund to purchase eight dolls.
“We think that’s exactly what we wanted the fund to be used for, something like that,” Nikky Farmakes said.
administers 66 named scholarships, 50 additional scholarships funded annually, and eight endowment funds.
New scholarships for 2022 include one in honor of longtime educator Mary Anderson-Petroske and one in memory of Pat Flynn, who served as a teacher, coach and administrator in the district for 32 years.
Other funds created through the foundation focus on areas such as fine arts, student activities, DECA, the autism program, and the purchase of library materials.
At Monday’s meeting, principals thanked the foundation for funding ski lessons for Northern Lights students through the school’s snow club and for bringing Hartley Nature staff and the school forest coordinator Lori Danz at Bryant Elementary School to help first-grade scientists learn about beavers.
More information about the foundation is available via the