HJ - Clarinda School Kindness Day 2019

Clarinda school staff members show their tools during Community Kindness Day Friday, May 31, to celebrate the final day of the school year. Teachers spent the morning assisting with various service projects in Clarinda and then were treated to a staff picnic at Clarinda City Park. (contributed photo)

Clarinda wrapped up the school year by saying thank you to the community for all its support of the school district.

A Community Kindness Day was held Friday, May 31, to celebrate the final day of the school year. Teachers spent the morning assisting with various service projects in Clarinda and then were treated to a staff picnic at Clarinda City Park.

“The teachers had four additional contract days after school was out due to making up snow days. The Teacher Leadership Compensation Instructional Coaches had three solid days of professional development planned then we thought, ‘What if we spent some time on the last day giving back to the community?’ We called several organizations and were able to get a variety of projects lined up,” Instructional Coach Cassie Eberly said.

Heidi Bird, Andy Harris and Audra Riddle agreed the Community Kindness Day was a wonderful way to cap off a successful school year and give back to the city for all the support it gives the district.

“If you’re a teacher and you do not care about your community, you are in the wrong line of work. The school doesn’t exist by itself. We rely on the community and hopefully the community relies on us, so it was good to get outside on a nice day and do something to help,” Harris said.

“I loved it. I was excited to have a day like this. So many business people in the community help the school out, it was great to give back and show how much we appreciate what they do for the Clarinda Community School District,” Riddle said.

“It was a well spent couple of hours. It was a gift for us to go and experience that,” Bird said.

The teachers signed up for the service project that interested them. Among the activities were painting the outfield fence at Clarinda Municipal Stadium; work with Clarinda Parks Director Jebb Fish; planting flowers and organizing the archives at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum; helping prepare for a new art exhibit at the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum; creating a clothing closet for students at Clarinda Middle School; and spreading woodchips at the school playground.

Since he is friends with Fish, Harris said he elected to work on the park projects. Harris said the team he was on mulched the entryway to the Clarinda Lied Center.

“I was hoping to get something outside. My family is down at the park some during the summer, so I thought that would be a good thing. I have also known Jebb for a long time and appreciate what he does,” Harris said.

Riddle assisted with scrapping and repainting the outfield fence at Clarinda Municipal Stadium. She said she selected that project because her family loves attending the Clarinda A’s baseball games during the summer.

“It was a great way to give back and help,” Riddle said. “It gives you a good feeling to help other people. It also shows we care about the community and appreciate what the community does for us. It was a nice day to be able to get out and help,” Riddle said.

Bird selected to work at the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum. Bird said curator Trish Okamoto provided the group a tour of the museum, talked about ways the museum could assist teachers with lessons and explained volunteers are needed at the museum.

“It was a very eye-opening experience for us, especially if you have not spent a lot of time there. I am not a native of Clarinda, so I learned a lot about this area as well as what the museum offers. I appreciate the history it provides,” Bird said. “Trish wanted us to experience the museum and get a chance to dig into its collection so later we would go back and pay it forward. I was inspired. It was a great opportunity for us.”

Since the teachers were able to select their projects, there was generally a mix of teachers from each building working at each site. This provided the teachers the rare opportunity to interact with staff members they normally would not interact with during a regular school day.

“It was great getting to be around the other staff members in a different setting. The weather was beautiful and we had a good time,” Riddle said.

Harris said it was also rewarding to be able to start and complete a project that will be enjoyed by other citizens and visitors to Clarinda.

“The best thing was seeing a job from beginning to end. As educators, sometimes we do not see the fruits of our labors right away. However, that day, we had a lot of people walk by and say it looked nice. So, that felt good,” Harris said.

Bird said visiting the museum gave her a sense of pride in Clarinda and the opportunities it can provide for students.

“The best part of the experience for me was learning we don’t have to go outside Page County to inspire our kids. Our local community has so much to offer,” Bird said.

Based on the success of the Community Kindness Day this year, all three of the teachers said they hoped the program would be continued in the future.

“I would like for this to become an annual event. I’m sure there are a lot of different things in the community we can do and help with,” Riddle said.

“I think it was a very valuable experience. We have talked about having students do something like this, so this was a good start. Our ultimate goal would be to motivate students to do the same thing and maybe have them join us,” Bird said.

“It’s always good to give back to the community. I hope they do something like this next year as well. It’s a good way to end our school year,” Harris said.

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