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“I really needed this today.”

teacher holding gift

“These days are super exciting.”

Blowing up balloons.

Decorating carts.

Picking just the right song.

That’s how Veronica Valdez and Christine Zimmerle spent the morning.

They are parent volunteers at Clear Spring Elementary School.

And maybe, more importantly, they are on the Prize Patrol.

The Prize Patrol has been making weekly rounds at Clear Spring for three weeks delivering prizes to randomly-selected staff members.

“We want them to know we appreciate them, “said Valdez. “Everyone here is so engaged. It feels like everyone here is working together to help the kids.”

Valdez and Zimmerle are also part of the Family Engagement Leadership Academy (FELA).

FELA provides parents or community members with skills to be a more-involved parent in their children’s education.

Roxanna Gutierrez-Garcia is the Family Specialist at Clear Spring.

She runs FELA, and she has enjoyed getting to know the parents and creating these magic moments for the staff.

“This has been so fun. The staff gets so excited,” said Gutierrez-Garcia. “Everyone needs appreciation, and our teachers and staff need to know we support them.”

Thanks to generous donations from parents, nearly every staff member has received a prize from the prize patrol.

Cookiesteam holding boxes of cookiesteacher looking at gift

But that wasn’t good enough for the Prize Patrol; they wanted to do something for absolutely every staff member, so parent volunteer, Christine Zimmerle, baked enough cookies for everyone on the staff, and Valdez printed “thank you” stickers for every bag of cookies.

“I try to be here as much as I can. I wanted to be involved in what my kids are going through,” said Zimmerle. “It’s a home environment here. Providing this small service to these teachers and staff is so fulfilling.”

And it was just what these teachers and staff needed.

teachers with prizesteachers with giftsteachers with gifts

Their eyes would light up when the prize patrol pulled up to their classrooms.

“Yeah, I won!”

“Oh, this is so exciting.”

“I really needed this today.”

Every reaction was so genuine—so excited—so needed.

“It’s great to have parents back in our building and to be able to celebrate with them,” said one of today’s winners and first-grade teacher Katie Morris. “We are all on the same team through the craziness, and this means so much.”

Thank you, Clear Spring FELA, for showing us all how to say thanks #theNEISDway.

Posted by: Evan Henson
posted on: 04/11/2022