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Hundreds of NEA Volunteers Revitalize Maryland Middle School in Annual ‘Outreach to Teach’

Educators put down their pencils and pick up shovels for a good cause

WASHINGTON - June 27, 2012 -

WKYS 93.9: Thomas Johnson Middle School Principal Thanks NEA Outreach to Teach Volunteers

WKYS 93.9 Interviews NEA Student Volunteer from Omaha, NE

WKYS 93.9 Interviews NEA-Retired President

WKYS 93.9: NEA President Dennis Van Roekel Says Outreach Volunteers Want to Make a Difference

WNEW 99.1 at 2012 Outreach to Teach

More than 400 college students, teachers, retired educators, higher education faculty, and education support professionals picked up shovels and dug in today to give a needy local school a much-needed facelift.

The National Education Association Student Program’s “Outreach to Teach” corps descended on Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, Md., where NEA members grabbed hammers, shovels, brushes, and mops to repair, landscape, paint, clean, and decorate the school. Students from as far away as Hawaii pitched in to help.

The award-winning “Outreach to Teach” program is celebrating its 16th 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.

“Ensuring every child’s basic right to a great public school starts with providing children with an environment that is safe, healthy, and conducive to learning,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said. “We are here today because students and school employees deserve to learn and work in clean and cheerful surroundings. Together, we must invest in our students and our public schools to give every child the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”

Thomas Johnson Middle School, home of the Jaguars, is named after the first governor of Maryland. It has been identified by the state as a turnaround school, one of six middle schools in Prince George’s County Public Schools so designated. The school serves a diverse student body of nearly 1,000, including African-American (65.49%), American Indian/Alaska Native (9.39%), Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (1.34%), White (6.71%), Asian (4.15%), and multi-racial (12.93%) students.

“Thomas Johnson Middle School is pleased to be the recipient of this year's NEA ‘Outreach to Teach’ project,” said Principal Dr. C. Michael Robinson. “The improvements made enhance our building and grounds and ensure that students and teachers have an improved environment that will allow them to learn and teach more effectively.”

Outreach to Teach began in 1996 as a beautification project to give back to schools. Past efforts have included schools in Philadelphia, Orlando, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, San Antonio, Dallas, Compton, and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Since its inception, participation has increased by more than 1,000 percent.

“Outreach to Teach is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Tommie Leaders, NEA Student Program chair. “We work hard, but at the end of the day, you know that it was worth it—because every student has a right to attend a public school that is clean, safe, inviting, and up-to-date.”

Editorial note: High-res, downloadable images are available at our Outreach to Teach Flickr set and will be updated throughout the day.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 262-0589,