The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 13, 2013

Arkansas students aid Irving teachers with move to new school

The bulletin boards are starting to come down, and the boxes of school supplies and materials are starting to stack up.

Teachers at Irving Elementary School who are preparing for their move into the new school on South McClelland Boulevard got some help Friday from more than a dozen students from the University of Arkansas. The 19 students, future teachers from Arkansas’ master’s-level teaching program, were in Joplin as part of a service-learning project to aid the transition between schools.

The students are scheduled to return today, if needed, to help the teachers move and set up their classrooms at the new school, said Denise Mounts, a clinical assistant professor of childhood education at the University of Arkansas.

The students, who are interns at two elementary schools in Fayetteville, Ark., also planned to talk to Irving teachers to pick up tips and strategies for dealing with pupils who have gone through traumatic events, Mounts said. Some of the students had prepared lessons to keep the pupils engaged while their regular teachers were packing, she said, but those plans were nixed when classes were canceled because of inclement weather.

Arkansas student Kelsey Backus said she and her classmates jumped on the project when Mounts, whose daughter is a teacher at Irving, pitched it to help them earlier this semester.

“We were overjoyed to come and help,” she said. “We couldn’t get here quick enough.”

Backus said she hadn’t yet seen the new school, but she was “grateful” for the chance to help smooth the transition for teachers and pupils alike.

“It’s really eye-opening how the teachers were able to have a successful school year here in this building,” she said while working at Irving’s K-2 campus, the former Washington Education Center on Second Street. “Knowing that we’re going to help them get to a better school environment is exciting.”

Arkansas student Christina Clift said late Friday morning that she had already taken down a Word Wall bulletin board at the K-2 building, and she planned to do a lot more organizing, cleaning and packing before the day was over. It seemed like a slightly daunting challenge, she said, but she wasn’t too put off by the chore.

“Many hands make light work,” she said.

Clift said she was happy to help Irving faculty and staff with the move, particularly because she one day hopes to become a teacher herself.

“It’s just amazing to try to take care of other people,” she said. “Even though you don’t know them, you have a spiritual and emotional connection with them because you do the same thing.”

With help from her daughter and an Arkansas student, second-grade teacher Judy Bashor was cleaning out her room, going through closets, throwing away unneeded materials, taking down bulletin boards and stacking packed boxes against a wall, ready for transport. She said she will keep her curriculum materials with her, as classes are still in session for another week before breaking for the holidays.

Bashor ironically is no stranger to moving her classroom. She started with the Joplin district five years ago at Emerson Elementary School; after it was destroyed in the tornado, she moved with Emerson faculty to the former Duquesne Elementary School for two years. When Irving and Emerson schools were combined over the summer, she moved to Irving’s K-2 campus.

She said she hopes this will be the final time she’ll have to pack up her classroom.

“It should be my last move, if I have anything to do with it,” she said.

Opening date

Irving, Soaring Heights Elementary School and East Middle School will officially open Jan. 6, the start of the spring semester.

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