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Hundreds of educators help make over Dawes Elementary

NEA volunteers give a deserving facelift to local elementary school

EVANSTON - June 28, 2011 -

Educators from across the country are gathering in Chicago for the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly this week; hundreds of them took time Tuesday to help with a much-needed and well-deserved makeover for Charles Dawes Elementary School in Evanston.

NEA students and retired members, teachers, and education service professionals picked up hammers, shovels, paint brushes, brooms, and mops to repair, landscape, and spruce up the local elementary school as part of NEA’s Outreach to Teach program.

Outreach to Teach celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.  Chicago cake designer and recent contestant on Food Network Challenge Awesome 80’s Cakes, Mark Lie, helped make the 15th anniversary celebration special.  Lie designed, baked, assembled, and presented a special cake to the school and volunteers in honor of the milestone anniversary and successful completion of the Dawes project.

“This is my fourth Outreach to Teach,” said NEA Student Program Chairperson Tommie Leaders.   “As an NEA student member, I love participating in these events and helping to make a difference in the very schools our members will teach in one day.   Our student members really believe in this.”

Each year, a high-need public school located in the host city of the NEA Annual Meeting is selected to receive a free makeover from NEA volunteers. Roughly 400 educators showed up in Evanston for the annual event, some from as far away as Hawaii, to help revamp Dawes Elementary School.

“Students need all of us – working together – to give them better opportunities. It starts with a clean and safe place for students to go to school,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “That’s why we’re proud of NEA’s Outreach to Teach.  It goes to the heart of what being a good teacher is all about—working with people to build something new and exciting.”

Dawes Elementary School is part of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65.  The school currently serves approximately 365 students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. 

NEA’s Outreach to Teach volunteers focused their efforts on hundreds of improvements in the Dawes learning environment.  They replaced 50 countertops and over 100 cabinet doors.  Volunteers also assembled over 40 pieces of furniture and landscaped the school’s garden by installing six raised gardening beds and planting more than 75 flowers, trees, and shrubbery around the school.

“We are so pleased and excited about the changes made in our learning environment as a result of this project,” said Dawes Elementary Principal Karen Bradley.  “We've been able to accomplish some of the things that have been on our ‘to do’ list for a while. The inside and outside of the building look a lot brighter; our students will be surprised and pleased when they return for the new school year. I’d like to thank NEA and all its Outreach to Teach volunteers for making a significant investment in the students of Dawes."

To view photos from today’s event, please go to
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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: Sara Robertson,