Wally is a celebrity among kindergartners at Ben Franklin Elementary School. When he shows his tan-fabric face and brown, curly, yarn hair, kids call out to him and come running to give him a hug or a high five.
Yes, Wally is a puppet, but a beloved puppet, who, with the help of Patti Miller from Olmsted County Child and Family Services, helps teach kids social/emotional behavior skills.
Using Wally, other puppets, music and pictures, Miller and DeeDee Weidman, of Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center, are teaching Franklin kindergartners the Incredible Years curriculum. Through the curriculum, the kids learn how to deal with their emotions and find solutions to problems, said Susanne Griffin-Ziebart, the school's principal.