Officer Spotlight: Auxiliary Captain Tracy Gantner, Kroc Center

Dec 9, 2020

Auxiliary Captain Tracy Gantner admits that 2019 was a tough year. Historic flooding that spring displaced thousands of families and individuals, many of whom lost everything. A/Captains Tracy and John Gantner and dozens Kroc Center staff worked countless hours to provide survivors with flood relief supplies and financial assistance in the weeks and months following the flood.

Just as the Gantners and their staff were able to catch their breath, the pandemic hit, presenting the Kroc Center with a new set of unique challenges.

“When local announced they were going virtual, many parents had decisions to make,” said A/Capt. Tracy. “The first decision was whether they would quit their job; and of course, that would put economic stress on the family. The second decision was whether they would continue working and leave their kids at home, but that was an unsafe environment.”

The Gantners and their staff responded to what they saw as a critical need in the community by launching Kroc Academy -- a program that oversees remote learning in cooperation with Omaha Public Schools. 

The innovative remote learning program was made possible by donations totaling $150,000 in private contributions, plus more than $125,000 in CARES Act funding.

“It was a very quick response, but we had the right people and the right passion for the community and the children, and it all came together,” said A/Capt. Tracy. “It’s been a very good program.”

Kroc Academy currently operates three remote learning classrooms accommodating 45 students from eight different Omaha schools. The Kroc Center is also collaborating with Boys Town, which is providing a school support specialist on site, as well as coaching and consultation services which have enabled Kroc Academy to implement an evidence-based education model that fosters positive relationships between staff and students.

“It warms my heart to see the kids here,” said A/Capt. Tracy. “They are so well-behaved, they get their homework done and their grades are going up. Children deserve to be in an environment in which they can advance.”

A/Capt. Tracy is grateful for the support of the community, but she also emphasizes that the need this year is greater than ever. “It’s going to be a very difficult Christmas for a lot of people,” she said. “We will serve our community one way or another, but we can’t serve in the way we would like to if we don’t have the funds.”

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If you’re wondering What can I do? to help “Rescue Christmas” for those in need this season, please consider volunteering as a bell ringer or making an online donation. Every bit helps – thank you!

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