MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week’s Excellent educator, Mark Trumper, is a very popular man at Pillsbury Elementary in Northeast Minneapolis.
Trumper is an English Language Learner teacher, but what makes his students love him this much is what he started seven years ago.
“A third of the kids coming into 4th grade didn’t know how to ride a bike and never had a chance so we teach everybody how to ride a bike,” Trumper said.
Twice a week the kids gather to learn about bike mechanics, proper cycling behavior and then hop on donated bikes and head out into the city.
“We go all the way to the west side to Wirth Park, we go downtown on field trips, Children’s Theater, Stone Arch Bridge, Boom Island,” he said.
Rain, sleet or snow, nothing will stop these kids from hitting the trail.
“We think that kids in Minneapolis can go out anywhere in the city and any time of year under their own power and we’ve proven it,” Trumper said.
A sense of freedom and empowerment given to these kids, many of whom are from first and second generation immigrant families. But Trumper gets so much back.
“I remember the day I learned to ride a bike and how excited I was and I get to see that probably 20-30 times every year and I never get tired of it,” he said.
Trumper is retiring this year.
He plans to come back part-time keep the Pedal Power program going.
It’s not just kids, he also has classes for their parents to come in and learn how to ride a bike, so families can take bikes rides together.
In the winter, kids turn in the bikes for cross country skis.