Building Bridges For Learning!

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A Virginia Beach school reaches out to Frankford

Across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel lies Virginia Beach, VA. I have a friend who is a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she is a Digital Learning Resource teacher at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in VA Beach. My friend knows that I will take items people are giving away and find them a good home. One of the fourth grade teachers knew that I had taken materials before and asked me if I would like a classroom set of Reading textbooks as they were updating their books. I said, “Sure”. She decided it would be a good time to clean out her closet as well. Soon, the Assistant Principal learned about this and offered all of the old Reading textbooks, manuals, testing materials and supplementary materials from Kindergarten through Grade 4 – over 400 books. Hmm, what to do? Who would want them?

My husband, Bob, you also know him as the Editor of the Frankford Gazette, told me about Nashid Edwards, the co-founder of Concerned Citizens for a Better Frankford. Nashid and his organization have partnered with Stearne School, to help and support them teaching our neighborhood children. I contacted Nashid to see if he would be interested, he contacted the Principal of Stearne and “Yes” was the answer. These books, posters, big books, flashcards, testing materials, etc., could be used as supplementary materials in school and home.

The next step was figuring out how to bring these materials here. Bob and I would drive our RV down to Virginia Beach, load up the RV and bring them home – to Nashid and Stearne. Little did we know, that St. Gregory staff had heard about our coming for these materials and they decided to “pay it forward” by donating more surplus they no longer needed or used that might help other students. By the time Bob and I arrived in Virginia Beach, I think this picture tell the story. Make sure you look down the hallway on the right. There were even boxes behind those yellow doors.

Size of donation

Bob and I could only bring one-half of all of these materials back in our RV. There were 2 tons by the time these generous souls had gathered and boxed up everything. The joy each felt that these materials would be used and would continue to encourage students’ learning was something to see and something never to forget. We packed up our RV and headed home. (At some point we must return to bring up the rest of the “goodies”.)

When we returned, Nashid and his organization were ready to unload, sort and put everything to good use. But every good story has a “back story”. On the way down to Virginia

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

(l-r) Nashid Edwards, Richard Cook, Pete Specos and Wayne Sledge

Beach, Bob slipped and fell on some oil at a gas station and injured his neck damaging some nerves that affect his eating, drinking and speech. As I write this story, he’s in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for diagnosis and treatment. We are confident of a full recovery and are grateful for all the prayers and support of family and friends.

Wayne Sledge, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

Richard Cook, member of the 1st graduating class in 1968

As Bob didn’t feel well, Pete Specos, was kind enough to drive the RV (I could drive through the Bay Bridge Tunnel but I wasn’t confident of some of our very narrow Frankford streets) down to Stearne to make the final delivery.

When St. Joachim RC Church closed last summer, many of the parishioners stayed together because of our sense of community. We organized and titled a new nonprofit organization, Keep the Faith in Frankford. This was not just about our church but about ourselves and believing that we can mkae a difference right where we are. We believe that and Concerned Citizens for A Better Frankford believe that, too. I titled this story to show that from start to finish, this was an effort and collaboration between organizations and people who did not know each other but who are in the business of building strong minds. This can only happen if we work together for the good of all of our children.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel photo: VABound.com