What's Right With Our Schools: West Valley Middle

11:07 PM, Dec 21, 2011   |    comments
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The assembly instructions that come with kids' toys can be insanely hard to follow. Plenty of parents understand the feeling of trying to put together some of those big toys at Christmastime. 

It is a process students at one East Tennessee Middle School tackled head-on as a part of a two in one holiday themed lesson.

Amy Crawford's seventh grade class at West Valley Middle School made one final push to finish assignments before Christmas break. 

The hands-on approach to reading comprehension is helping students in the classroom as well as other children who depend on the Mission of Hope. "We always try to give our students real-life experiences, so I figured what better way than to have them actually read and follow the directions and figure out how to assemble a toy - that's going to be used by a child in Appalachia," said Crawford. 

In the weeks before Christmas, more than 150 West Valley seventh graders planned for a workshop day. They only had to follow two key rules. Each toy they selected to give to Mission of Hope needed to be something that required assembly. That is where the reading comes in. Plus, the kids couldn't just take donations to buy the toys. They had to earn the money themselves.

"I did outside yard work - I did pulling weeds outside, I definitely mowed the lawns - a lot of lawns," said seventh grader Landon Davis.

"I babysat my neighbors and I did chores around the house," explained seventh grader Natalie Pruitt. 

"I did extra chores around the house and I scrubbed the baseboards..I vacuumed a ton around the house," said Connor Kah. 

"Mainly I babysat my sisters - and then I cleaned the house and made my bed and stuff like that," said Caroline.

That kindness and compassion is a spirit most would say is the real meaning of the seaon and something teachers said students can't learn from a book.

"It turns out to be a learning experience for them because they've invested something of themselves in order to be able to give," said Crawford.

So after a few adjustments in the assembly process and a couple of re-dos, the West Valley Students finished their reading assignment in time for Christmas Break and in time for the Mission of Hope to deliver their finished work to those in need. 

Together with more than $3,000 worth of toys assembles at West Valley Middle School, Mission of Hope managed to deliver gifts to more than 17,000 children this season. 

Volunteers wrapped up their final Christmas delivery late last week at Forge Ridge Elementary in Harrogate. In all, Mission of Hope delivered gifts to 27 elementary schools in East Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

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