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Hundreds of NEA members from across the country spend the day refurbishing Denver elementary schools

Educators volunteer for annual “Outreach to Teach” community service project


Denver, CO - June 29, 2014 -

Educators from around the country picked up hammers, shovels, mops and paintbrushes today to give local schools a much-needed facelift.

Some 400 NEA members—current, future and retired teachers; higher education faculty; and education support professionals—put in a full day and lots of sweat equity to spruce up Denver’s Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA). Nearby Valverde Elementary School also received a facelift. In this “Outreach to Teach” community service project, sponsored each year by the National Education Association “NEA” Student Program, volunteers spent the day repairing, landscaping, painting, cleaning and decorating the schools. New murals were painted throughout the schools, and the teachers’ lounges received a major makeover. NEA members from as far away as Hawaii pitched in to help.

This is the 19th year of community service by the award-winning “Outreach to Teach” program. Each year, hundreds of NEA members come early to the Association’s Annual Meeting city to give back to public schools.

“Ensuring every child’s basic right to a great public school starts with providing students with an environment that is 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.”

MSLA is one of NEA’s Priority Schools, a group of 40 schools across the country the Association is focusing attention on to raise student achievement. The academy is a teacher-led school in west Denver with the motto, “Everyone in this school is a learner, a teacher and a leader.” MSLA doesn’t have traditional school administrators like a principal. Instead, all the decisions — from the length of the school day to the color of the chairs — rest with the teachers, who openly collaborate with school support staff, parents and students to drive the direction of learning.

“Educators are deeply committed to the success of every student,” said Van Roekel. “That’s why NEA members across the country are teaming up with parents, principals, community organizations and elected leaders through NEA’s Priority Schools.”

“Because this school is teacher-led, we know how much this ‘spruce-up’ means to them,” said NEA Priority Schools Director Andrea Prejean. “It’s not just a facelift, it reinforces their identity. It’s a reminder for the kids, the parents, the staff and the community that this is their school and it’s not going anywhere.”

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 the service project began, the number of volunteers has grown exponentially.

“It feels so good to help a school in such a concrete way,” said David Tjaden, chair of the NEA Student Program. “At the end of the day, we have visible proof of our efforts. We know our time was well spent because we really do believe that every student has a right to attend a public school that is clean, safe, inviting and up-to-date.”

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

Celeste Busser | (202) 262-0589, cfbusser@nea.org


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