26 December 2012
The difficulties Fluvanna teachers are facing haven’t been lost on Sara Markham, even though she’s away at Longwood University.
Markham, who graduated from Fluvanna High School in 2010, wants to become a teacher. Perhaps that’s why she is in tune to the cuts to education and new financial burdens on teachers in her home county.
Instead of just feeling sad about the situation, Markham decided to honor Fluvanna teachers with a Christmas luncheon at Effort Baptist Church Family Life Center Saturday (Dec. 15).
“I know a lot of teachers,” Markham said. “Those teachers, it has mostly hit their spirit. They feel so helpless. That’s why I decided to do this. To let them know they’re being supported.”
Markham contacted Jonathan Corbin, who along with his sister, Hannah, started the group Students for Teachers this summer. Even though the group decided to take a break from fundraising while school is session, many thought it was too good a chance to pass up. The students brought food and helped set up the room.
There was Christmas music playing, a table set up for children to do crafts and the opportunity to play basketball. And there was lots of food. The problem was, despite blanketing the community with fliers and advertising in newspapers and in the schools, not many teachers showed up.
The ones who did were deeply touched by Markham’s efforts.
Dana Shepherd used to teach in the Fluvanna school system and her husband, Chris Shepherd, teaches at Cunningham Elementary.
“These kids have done an amazing job,” Dana Shepherd said. “A lot of people are doing a lot of different things and the teachers would appreciate the work they’ve done. They’ve done an amazing job to make us feel loved. This is such a blessing. Such an awesome, thoughtful thing. “
Rebecca and Tre Smith both teach in Fluvanna Schools. Rebecca is a middle school Spanish teacher and also teaches Introduction to Dance and Theater. Carl is a technology and physical education teacher.
They brought their two children Tre, 8, and Jaidon, 6.
The Smiths appreciate the hard work and talent of their children’s teachers.
“Miss Taylor is a great teacher. (Jaidon) has blossomed under her. Every day he writes me letters. He’s already at a Rigby level 4 in reading,” Rebecca said. “Tre is in Miss Hellinger’s third grade class at Carysbrook. Her hands-on projects are fantastic. And he has a really hard technology and physical education teacher – his daddy.”
After her boys ate, they got onto the court to play basketball with their dad.
“We are so thankful,” Rebecca Smith said. “This is very meaningful. That they would take the time to cook for us and let us know they appreciate us. I’ve never seen that before.”
Markham contacted many businesses for help putting on the event. Two in particular came through: Villa Nova and Lake Monticello Family Dentistry. Walter Salanova sent many authentic
Italian dishes from his restaurant and Lake Monticello Family Dentistry gave Markham money. She used it to buy fried chicken, she said.
Jonathan Corbin said his group raised about $350 at their back-to-school event in August, which they split with the group Packed for Success. Since then they’ve been buying pencils, pencil sharpeners, storage crates and maps for teachers.
“But we’re trying more to give moral support, “Jonathan said. “I’ve spoke at the Board of Supervisors’ meetings. Now that people are aware of the need, we’re seeing how we can get people more involved.”
After putting their heads together, Students for Teachers came up with things Fluvanna’s citizen’s can do:
- If you have kids in the school system, meet with their teachers and get involved at the beginning of the school year, before there are issues and problems that have to be discussed.
- Thank your teachers! Ask them what they need individually or just let them know that you appreciate them by sending a thank-you note or e-mail.
- Get involved in your school’s Parent Teacher Organization and attend community meetings.
- Talk to members in the community who don’t have kids in the school system to explain why the schools are still important to them.