Extra effort

Rotary turns in another year of helping hands for Walland Elementary

The Rotary Club of Maryville has spent plenty of time in school this year. They weren’t attending classes but were making class easier for the teachers and students.

The Rotary Club has been the Adopt-a-School partner with Walland Elementary School for some time. At the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, club members committed themselves to helping make life better at the school. Proof of that partnership was evident in April when the club donated 60 Rubbermaid storage containers for teachers at the school, as well as shelving and a clothes rack for the resource area.

Principal Phyllis Garner praised the Rotary Club for their efforts. “The Rotary Club has been a wonderful partner this year,” she said.

Garner said club members like club secretary Dana West and club president Dave Straquadine stepped up and helped out, as did Ron Appuhn at Maryville College. “He has helped out a lot and been an extra person on our team,” she said.

Garner said the school’s design made it difficult for teachers. “We’re an old school. This school was built when there weren’t many storage needs. We were needing storage badly. Things they’ve done helped,” she said of the Rotary Club’s assistance. “A lot of that was getting containers to store things in and shelving. That’s something we didn’t have when we converted (the building) from a high school to a middle school and eventually an elementary school.”

The principal said the Rotary Club also helped pay for a math program, bought books and encouraged members to be reading mentors. The mentors come once a week and spend an hour a week with students in that program, she said.

Garner said the mentors aren’t just reading, they’re being good examples of supportive adults with good life skills to pass onto students. “Some students need that as much as they do reading skills. An extra person to say, ‘I’m here,’” she said.

The principal said the Rotary Club has really helped the school. “It’s been super. They’ve come and planted plants, and they’ve done all sorts of stuff,” she said. “This year they made a commitment to go the extra mile. They made an extra commitment, and I really appreciate that.”

Blount County Schools director Alvin Hord said the Rotary Club members have been open to what teachers needed and supplied them with material they wouldn’t have otherwise had. “I am very appreciative of them because of that,” Hord said. “We have a lot of community help, and that is a good example of that help. We very much appreciate it.”

Fred Forster, president and CEO of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, said the Rotary Club of Maryville has been one of the Chamber’s best Adopt-a-School partners over the years.

Forster said the Chamber appreciates everything the Rotary Club has done for the school. “As we continue to emphasize education in our community and make it our No. 1 priority, anything any organization can do to help schools is greatly appreciated,” he said. “It will bear fruit, and this is a good example.”

Dana West said that in the past, the club just gave the school $500 for any incidental expenses teachers may have but this year members chose a different tact. “This year we wanted to be more involved,” she said. “We asked what were the needs of the school and teachers, and they wrote out a wish list.”

The club ended up raising $3,000 for the school. Then the giving started again. “We asked every grade level what they wanted. One third grade needed a $600 math program for all the third grades,” she said.

Club members also provided students with school supplies for those who couldn’t afford supplies. In the winter, the Rotary Club decorated a Christmas tree to display at the Blount County Courthouse in honor of the school.

In addition, Rotary Club members also got gifts for 78 underprivileged children. They got each one a sweat suit, socks, underwear and a book, West said.

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