Top: Outreach To Teach Student Project Chair Jessica Breyne (center, right of WTWO photographer) presents school supplies to Staunton Elementary teachers on behalf of members of the Indiana Student Education Association and the Indiana State Teacher's Association during the "Stuff the Bus" ceremony. The supplies will be distributed according to age level among the classrooms at the school.
Bottom: Staunton Elementary Instructional Assistant Denelle Dupin, and her husband Daniel, work on landscaping around the school's road sign during the Outreach To Teach event. The couple have two children attending the school.
Staunton Elementary received a major facelift during spring break, most of which took place in less than seven hours.
"I'm really impressed by all this," Clay Community Schools Building and Grounds Director Tom Reberger told The Brazil Times during the Outreach To Teach event Saturday. "They're doing virtually everything our maintenance crew does over the summer in just one day. We have a seven-man crew to do maintenance for 14 buildings, and they get spread a little thin at times. This will definitely make one less building we'll have to do cosmetic maintenance for over the summer."
Staunton Elementary is the second school to be helped by the Outreach To Teach program. Only one elementary school each year in the state is chosen from an application process for the beautification project.
"Staunton was chosen last fall for this project," said Lindsey Hewitt, a member of the Indiana Student Education Association's Outreach Committee. "Staun-ton's principal, staff members and our Outreach To Teach committee members worked closely with each other, meeting several times during the year, to create a 'wish list' of things that needed to be done at the school. We're here to see that it happens."
Created in 2005, Outreach To Teach is sponsored by ISEA membership, which consists of college students studying to become instructors from colleges around the state. Members of the Indiana State Teacher's Association also support the event.
Students from Ball State University, Manchester College, University of Evansville, University of Southern Indiana, Indiana State University, Indiana University, Indiana University Northwest, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis of Columbus, Purdue University Calu-met, Purdue University Lafayette and the University of Indianapolis participated in the Staunton event.
These past, present and future teachers, along with other volunteers, devote their time and energy to collecting donations of money, supplies and materials to use for the annual event.
"I'm really proud of our students and teachers for taking time from their schedules to be out here like this," ISTA President Judy Briganti said while taking a break from painting a wall. "This really is a family event. There's such an energy of service from everyone here, a real attempt to make a difference. I'm very proud of everyone here today."
Early in the week, the school corporation's maintenance crew cleared selected classrooms and offices of large furniture.
Volunteers began arriving early last Thursday to help wash walls, set up work stations and fix holes in walls. More members arrived on Friday to help in the preparation work.
"I'm so grateful they let us come here, welcoming us so warmly, letting us work with them on this project," Student Project Chair Jessica Breyne said. "There is an awesome staff here (at Staunton,) and it's been great working with them during this past year."
On Saturday, more than 160 volunteers arrived early, ready to go to work with local teachers, parents and other volunteers. Divided into work crews, they were sent off to clean, repair and paint everything on the list, and a few extra things found in need of attention along the way.
"This is such an awesome day. All these people from around the state came here this morning and you just couldn't contain their enthusiasm. Everyone came ready to do something, so it's hard to keep track of what all is being done now that they're out there," ISEA Student President Hannah Sitzman said. "We are fortunate that so many of our volunteer supervisors are experts in many of the project areas we are doing. Not only does it help projects get done so much faster, but we are all learning new skills that can be used later."
Learning new ideas and skills while reaching out to help others is an important part of the event.
"This is my second project to be involved with, my last since I'm graduating, and I've loved every moment. Meeting people, networking, getting to know each other, talking with other teachers about their concerns is very important for up-and-coming teachers," Sitzman said. "But I have to admit, the greatest part of being involved in something like this, for me, is literally watching the transformation of a school happen all in one day."
In one day volunteers washed, repaired and painted the walls of hallways, classrooms and offices; they re-varnished doors and added murals around the inside walls of the building; while workers outside revamped all the landscaping, repaired park benches and made the gazebo handicap accessible.
Staff members, students, parents and visitors returning from spring break on Monday found Staunton Elementary shining like new.
Secretary Dianna Knight, whose office was on the list, said there is a warm and friendly presence throughout the building.
"We've had nothing but positive feedback from everyone," she said. "The students are very observant and appreciate the changes made."
The cosmetic changes have created a change in attitude with many students stopping by the office to thank the staff for "making the school look so pretty."
"One student even stopped by to say they liked the new furniture," Knight said. "There is no new furniture, but with everything redecorated, they think it's new."
A new look for the school, a new attitude for students and a new spirit of commitment to education and community involvement has touched the hearts of the staff at Staunton Elementary.
"It's nice to see young people, our future leaders, getting involved with education at this level. This has been such a rewarding experience for all of us, and we're so thankful to the ISEA for all they've done. It's an honor they chose us as their second Outreach To Teach event," Principal Sheryl Jordan said. "This is creating a wonderful cycle of community involvement throughout the state. We've had such a great time doing this, being involved, that we're planning on going to next year's event."