Mrs. Doyle visits Plymouth schools

Wisconsin's first lady, Jessica Doyle, visited two Plymouth schools last week, bearing gifts and talking to students about the importance of books.

Her first stop was at Riverview Middle School, for an assembly with the school's fifth-graders.

As one student correctly noted, she came to Riverview to recognize fifth-grader Skyler Gosse, who won the previous week's Where in Wisconsin Is Jessica Doyle? contest.

In the weekly contest, launched in 2003, Doyle presents three clues about a mystery city on the Web site

Students, working on their own or with their classrooms, can submit their answers via the Web site. They are encouraged to do research to find the correct answer.

Two winners are chosen randomly each week from among the correct responses (one from the fourth and fifth grades, and one from the sixth through eighth grades).

Doyle said Skyler's was one of 1,000 entries received that week, 900 of which were correct.

“So she's not only smart, she's also lucky,” she told the students.

Skyler's luck also brought her an impressive prize package, larger than most, according to Doyle. It included passes to the Burlington Chocolate Fest, a passport to state historic sites, State Fair passes, chocolates and a chocolate cookbook.

Doyle also gave her class a Wisconsin map, a Blue Book and two copies of “The Graveyard Book.”

Skyler, the daughter of Penny Gosse and the late John Gosse, is in Josh Batzner's class, which plays the game every week. They research the clues as a class, then submit the answer under a couple of students’ names.

Doyle also took many questions from the students, who wanted to know everything from where she lives (the governor's mansion in Madison) to how long she's been married (44 years in December) to who she and her husband will endorse for governor (it is too early in the campaign to tell).

Students also asked about her responsibilities as first lady, a position she has held since 2003. Her primary role is to help the governor, she said. Education is important to him, but he can't get to many schools. So she will go home and tell him about her visit to Plymouth and the questions students asked, so he can make good decisions.

In response to a question about the “nonbeneficial” parts of her job, Doyle said she would like more downtime as a family. “I never thought being a governor's wife would be so busy," she said.

The most enjoyable part of her job, she said, is visiting with students. The most important part is speaking up for schools, she said.

Doyle also explained the Wisconsin Covenant, a pledge students can sign in the eighth grade. Those who graduate from high school with a B average, take classes to prepare them for higher education and are good citizens are guaranteed a place in a Wisconsin technical school, University of Wisconsin school or participating private university.

She encouraged students to begin working on their study habits now, and to consider teaching as a career. “Behind every doctor there are great teachers,” she said.

Traveling with Doyle was Ashley Huibregtse, her personal assistant and last year's Alice in Dairyland — and a Plymouth High School graduate. Ashley also graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in elementary education and communications.

While in town, Doyle also spoke to fourth-graders at Fairview Elementary School. She encouraged them to practice reading regularly at home, just as they would tennis or piano.

“By practicing, I guarantee you'll become a better reader and learn to love reading,” she said.

The secret to reading, Doyle said, is finding a good book. She brought several examples for the school to keep, including “B is for Badger” (“Don't think this is some

baby alphabet book,” she told the students), “Show Way,” “Two Old Potatoes and Me,” and “Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride.”

She also told the students about her book club, Read On Wisconsin! Each month, a new book is selected in each of five age ranges and announced on the Web site The site also features three discussion questions for each book, and students can post their answers online.

“The important thing is not so much what you're reading but that you're thinking about what you read,” Doyle told the students.

Breakout: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?

These were the clues Skyler Gosse used to discover the mystery city. Do you know what it is?

Clue 1) This week’s mystery city is fondly known as “Chocolate City, U.S.A” due to the Nestle factory built in 1965.

Clue 2) Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Tony Romo moved to this Wisconsin city when he was two years old. Clue 3) This city is located in Racine County and is about 30 miles west of Lake Michigan. Answer: Burlington

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