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Acts of Kindness: Volunteers Organize 26 Teacher Appreciation Weeks Across Arlington
By Office of Communication
Posted on May 10, 2018, May 10, 2018

Brigitte Meeks and Gara Hill, PTA leaders from two Arlington elementary schools, have teamed up with local businesses and school volunteers to organize Teacher Appreciation Week at 26 elementary campuses across the city that don't have organized PTAs.

Meeks, Pope Elementary PTA First Vice-President and mother of three boys, said she realized the vast differences in parent support systems across Arlington schools after a conversation with a friend, who is a teacher at Patrick Elementary School.

With Teacher Appreciation Week coming up, Meeks wanted to find a way to give the teachers at her neighbor's school a little bit of appreciation too. She reached out to Hill, President of the Corey Academy PTA and avid community volunteer, for help. The Corey Academy PTA had already produced a teacher appreciation event at McNutt Elementary earlier in the year, so Meeks thought that Hill might be a good resource. Hill agreed without hesitation and immediately encouraged Meeks to expand her vision big time.

Over the next few days, Hill and Meeks reached out to several AISD Trustees to gather their input on the schools most in need of a small blessing and act of appreciation. With almost 70 percent of the AISD student population falling into the socioeconomically disadvantaged category, the 53 elementary school campuses vary greatly in terms of additional support systems in place with many not having any organized PTA or other organization to help fill in support gaps.

The volunteers' initial goal was to provide for 10 campuses, which quickly became 20 campuses and ultimately ended at 26 campuses across Arlington ISD that would receive turn-key appreciation events. When Meeks asked how this could be paid for, Hill confidently replied, "We just ask."

In just over 24 hours and based completely off a random selection of people via e-mail and social media, including leadership from many of the thriving PTA chapters across AISD, financial support was found in many donations from across the community. A sign-up sheet was sent asking people to donate time or money. The goal was to make the events uniform and easy to hand off to a volunteer to set up.

More than 70 donors have stepped forward to participate in this act of kindness. That includes Stephanie and Mark Shelton, owners of the Cici's Pizza on Little Road in Arlington and supporters of AISD. The Sheltons agreed to prepare and bake 2,600 brownies for teacher appreciation events, allow Meeks and Hill to use Cici's as their volunteer coordination spot, and provided a pizza buffet lunch for the delivery volunteers.

Each of the 26 campuses will receive brownies, soft drinks, water, plates, napkins, a sign of appreciation, and custom pens emblazoned with "Arlington LOVES its teachers." All teachers, custodial, office, and cafeteria staff, administrators, and all campus personnel will be invited to enjoy.

As Meeks began to coordinate with the campuses, Ena Myers, principal at Patrick Elementary, responded, "This email just made my day!! You have no idea how much this means to me. As a principal who just got to Arlington in a school without a strong PTA presence this means the world to me! I'm humbled to be a part of a community that takes such good care of not only their school but surrounding schools as well. You just blessed us greatly! Much love and appreciation!"

Hill and Meeks would love to see this effort grow to include more campuses including junior high and high schools. The investment these teachers, staff, and administrators make in the future of our city is something to applaud and appreciate - during Teacher Appreciation Week and every other week too, they said.

The City of Arlington applauds the service and support of volunteers such as Hill and Meeks, who are working to make The American Dream City a kinder place to live, work, play and learn. Mayor Jeff Williams announced the City of Arlington's Kindness Initiative last year. People are encouraged to report acts of kindness that they perform, witness or were the recipient of through the City's Ask Arlington mobile app, on the Acts of Kindness website, or by posting on social media using #ArlingtonKindness and @CityofArlington.

Click here to read more about Acts of Kindness occurring throughout The American Dream City.

"We celebrate you Hill and Meeks and all of the donors of this kind expression. In the face of declining social graces and common courtesies, there is a vision at work in Arlington to establish a new cultural standard - kindness," said Dr. Von Peaks, Arlington Community Relations Commission chair. "Thank you for taking up arms and helping to make Arlington a better place to live. Arlington - armed with kindness!"

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