Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

We appreciate you

Local businesses show gratitude to educators with teacher appreciation night
Feb 01, 2018
Deborah Vroom, a Wisdom Quest teacher, looks at a display from Access Energy during the Chamber’s teacher appreciation night on Wednesday.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Middle school teachers Heather Applegate and Sydni Foecke could not believe the loot they were going home with.

“This is better than Christmas,” said Applegate as she slid the canvas totes, piled high with classroom supplies off her shoulder and onto the floor. Applegate and Foecke were taking full advantage of the free supplies area businesses were providing during the teacher appreciation night held at the Airport Road Winery on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The event was hosted by the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance and brought area businesses together with local educators.

“I’m walking out with four bags and I didn’t have to buy any of it; it’s amazing,” said Applegate, who teaches social studies.

Twenty-four businesses participated in the event, handing out either classroom and school supplies or items for the teachers. “We’re here to show our support for the teachers in the area and give back to our local community,” said Melissa Flowers of Pilot Grove. The bank was handing out Kleenexes, Clorox wipes, notepads, rulers and candy.

Applegate and Foecke said they both grabbed as many boxes of Kleenexes and containers of Clorox wipes and Germ-X as they could fit into their totes. “It’s really nice to have this event so that teachers can get all the stuff (they need) for their (students),” said Foecke. “A lot of times we have to go to the store and buy it out of our own pockets or we have to go around and ask for donations.”

Foecke continued, “In August parents get the school supply list and they buy everything and give it to their kids. I know, especially in middle school, by January their pencils are gone, their paper is gone and their binder is falling to pieces. It’s really nice the community is getting together and helping us out by getting it for us.”

That was precisely the reason Chamber Alliance’s Executive Vice President Kristi Ray wanted to have the event. Teachers receive a lot of attention in August, Ray said noting the Chamber provides a welcome breakfast for faculty at the beginning of the school year. But that’s just the beginning of the year for teachers and there’s a lot of students and schools in need as the academic year progresses. “We decided (a winter event) might be a nice pick-me-up in the middle of the school year.”

Lincoln librarian Valerie Willham and elementary school nurse Sue Weiss were enjoying the night. “This is so awesome,” said Willham. “The wine is delicious and it’s so nice to get the support from the community.”

Tammy Mumme, owner of Mirror Image Salon and Spa, wanted to say “thank you” to all of the local teachers for the extra time and hard work they put in every day. “We thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and show the teachers what we have to offer.”

Mumme had two massage therapists on site to give teachers an up close look at what they do. “We wanted to show the teachers that they need to take some time out for themselves and they need to be pampered.”

Besides allowing the business community to show support to local educators, the event served as a building block in an initiative to bridge the gap between local businesses and Henry County school districts. “We believe there’s been a disconnect between the schools and the business community, by no fault of either one,” explained Ray. “So we decided to bring the two together.”

In 2017 the Chamber presented a plan to bring together local businesses and local school districts. The initiative begins with events like the teacher appreciation night and A Slice of Life, which allowed high school students to meet with business leaders over lunch to discuss professions within Henry County. By building a bridge between the two industries the Chamber hopes to find effective ways to not only get kids college and career ready, but find places for them to prosper locally. “When we started looking at what we could do to make a difference in the schools, all of this is directed at how do we bridge the skills gap so the kids know what jobs are out there and eventually those kids will fill the vacant positions we have.”

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