Hundreds of NEA Volunteers Revitalize Arlington High School in Annual 'Outreach to Teach'
Educators put down their pencils and pick up shovels for a good cause
WASHINGTON - June 27, 2008 -
More than 300 college students, teachers, retired educators, higher education faculty and education support professionals picked up shovels and dug in to give a needy, local school a much needed facelift on June 27.
The NEA Student Program's "Outreach to Teach" descended on Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., where NEA members grabbed hammers, shovels, brushes or mops to repair, landscape, paint, clean and decorate the school. Students from as far away as Hawaii participated.
The award winning "Outreach to Teach" is celebrating its 13th year of community service. Each year, a high-needs public school located in the host city of the NEA Annual Meeting is selected to receive a free makeover-thanks to hundreds of NEA volunteers.
"Picking up a shovel or a paint brush to beautify a school is a powerful personal investment for these member volunteers," NEA President Reg Weaver said. "NEA members believe it's important to do more than just talk about improving the facilities where teaching and learning takes place. We believe it's important to show our commitment to great public schools by actually making school facilities better.
Ultimately, it takes state lawmakers and local school boards making meaningful investments to ensure every child's right to a great education. It is our hope that this example of NEA members from around the country joining together to make a difference will convince decision makers that, working together, we can truly make a difference for students."
Wakefield High School is located in Arlington, Va., and was built in 1952. The school is home to approximately 1,500 students and 150 teachers. Reflecting the national capital area, Wakefield High School's richly diverse student body-approximately 40 percent Hispanic, 30 percent Black, and 15 percent Caucasian-provides students the benefit of learning with peers from around the world on a daily basis. This multicultural aspect is just one of the unique features of Wakefield.
"Wakefield High School is pleased to be the recipient of this year's NEA 'Outreach to Teach' project," said Doris B. Jackson, Wakefield principal. "The improvements made enhance our building and grounds and assure that students and teachers have an improved environment that will allow them to learn and teach more effectively."
Jackson was named Arlington's Principal of the Year and also received The Washington Post's Distinguished Educational Leadership Award.
Outreach to Teach began in 1996 as a beautification project to give back to schools. Past sites have included Philadelphia, Pa., Orlando, Fla., New Orleans, La., Atlanta, Ga., Chicago, Ill., San Antonio, Texas, Dallas, Texas, Compton, Calif., and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Since its inception, participation has increased by more than 1,000 percent.
"It is an awesome privilege to be a part of the 'Outreach to Teach' program," said Anthony Daniels, NEA Student Program chair. "It brings me a tremendous amount of joy to know we are turning the page on schools that are unsafe and unhealthy. As a result, we are moving that much closer to fulfilling the pledge to provide every child with a quality education."
"Watching our student and retired members working together for the common good makes me very proud to be a part of the NEA family," said Barbara Matteson, NEA-Retired Program chair. "Providing encouragement and support to our student members will help keep public education strong."
Generous donations were given by JCPenney, The Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, the Arlington Education Association and NEA Member Benefits.
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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.
Contact: Celeste Fernandez (202) 822-7823