Playground dedicated to beloved Westonka teacher

A west metro school is remembering a dedicated teacher in a very unique way.       

Kelly Brady Nafus, who died in a car accident on her way to work in 2009, had a passion for kids. Nafus started working for Westonka Community Education as a lifeguard and aquatics instructors while she was in high school. After college she pursued her passion for kids as a teacher at Shirley Hills primary school.

To memorialize her love of kids and education, her father Jim Brady, decided to create something in her name. Instead of receiving gifts upon his retirement, he asked that everyone instead donate money to help build a playground at Shirley Hills – eventually raising over $45,000.

"It’s been difficult for a long time. Things like this make it better, but it still never goes away and we think about it all the time," Brady said.

During a dedication on Monday, Nafus’ co-workers, friends and family gathered to remember the woman who was so important to them.

"She would love every inch of it. She would love it,”  said Haley Nelson, a childhood friend of Nafus’  while looking at the playground. "It’s awesome. It screams Kelly. Kelly was a kid at heart. She never grew up like the rest of us. She didn't want to. This is her."

For those who work at the school, the playground is a perfect way to honor Nafus.

"She was part of our family and to have a way to remember her that benefits the kids in our school district means the world to us," said Joel Dahl, Director of Community Education for Westonka.

The new playground will also be used by 3 and 4 year olds at a nearby early childhood education center as well as preschoolers in a child care program at the school.