published Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Cleveland museum helps Blue Springs’ teachers stock up

By Paul Leach
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For more information on the Museum Center at Five Points’ efforts to assist community education, call Jennifer White, curator of education, at 423-339-5745.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Nearly two dozen teachers from storm-devastated Blue Springs Elementary carried away boxes of donated school supplies from the Museum Center at Five Points this week.

Museum officials said they hosted Teacher Support Day to help Blue Springs faculty resupply their classroom materials, saying several teachers lost all of their supplies when the April 27 tornado damaged the school.

“We have a deep connection to education,” said Jennifer White, education curator for the museum, who began Five Points’ donation collection efforts the day after the storms.

Stacks of donated markers, paper and other items filled several tables and boxes in the museum’s large classroom Thursday. White said people dropped off countless items, and museum friends from Ohio delivered a giant box of backpacks.

She also praised the generosity of local schools, noting Blythe-Bower Elementary sent a truckload or two of assorted supplies and the Cleveland Middle School library delivered a selection of books.

“The community’s response has been unbelievable,” said Kristi Alley, who taught second grade at Blue Springs. “The museum is giving away hundreds of dollars in supplies.”

“We are overwhelmed by the support,” said Angela Lawson, Blue Springs principal.

Nearly all of Blue Springs’ teaching staff attended the museum’s event, Lawson said.

She said the community’s generosity “has been a bright light” to her and the Blue Springs staff during dark times.

Lawson said she was not certain of the county’s plans to replace the elementary school.

School officials decided in late May to send Blue Springs Elementary students to Black Fox Elementary and Waterville Elementary this fall.

In the meantime, she said, almost all of Blue Springs’ faculty and staff have been placed in other positions within the Bradley County system. The administration office has worked very hard to match educators with grades they are most comfortable teaching, Lawson said.

While Lawson said she greatly appreciates the efforts made to help her and the school’s staff, the first priority has been and will remain the students and their families.

“There’s still plenty to do,” she said of her role in facilitating transition for students and teachers.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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