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At the beginning of this school year I challenged readers to make a commitment to volunteer in schools and to make a difference (August 12, 2013; August 15, 2013):

Connect with teachers and students, and make a positive difference in their lives. Volunteer at a school near you!

Opportunities to get involved in your schools are endless. Make a commitment. Make a difference. I bet what you receive will be much greater… at least that’s been my experience.

The following very cool story is not a result of my challenge, but its message aligns! One of my colleagues, Ms. Margarette Johnson, sent an email request this week for colleagues to save water bottles and tops “for students to create their own version of Chihuly artwork” at Sherwood Elementary School (Pensacola, FL) where she volunteers. Margarette’s experience is an awesome example of how one’s volunteer commitment in a school “returned” the following excitement:


“Any help that you can provide [collecting bottles and caps] would be WONDERFUL.”

“Please see pictures below that I took while volunteering … – SO COOL! [smiley face]

I asked Margarette if she would provide a few sentences about why she chose to volunteer at Sherwood Elementary, how she made it to the Art room, and how she engages with students during her volunteer experience. Below are her responses.

Why volunteer at Sherwood Elementary? It took me a while to identify the right organization to spend my time volunteering.  I knew I wanted to work with children, as I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.  I ran into a friend of mine who works at Sherwood Elementary School and she began telling me how much they are struggling with the amount of volunteers, funding, supplies, etc. 

How did you make it to the Art room? This same friend works as the Art teacher and she does a fantastic job of utilizing the materials she has while still providing learning lessons through student projects.  I’ve always loved arts & crafts myself so I thought it would be great to try the Art room at Sherwood. After my first visit, I was hooked. 

Sherwood Classroom

How have you engaged with students? I engage in lessons that are taught – Since I’ve begun volunteering, we’ve made Chihuly chandeliers, pumpkins on a fence, textured candy corn, design your own t-shirt, and 5 senses stations. Here are some pictures!

Sherwood CandyCorn Sherwood Chihuly 1 Sherwood Peery Sherwood T-Shirt

Other takeaways for Margarette as a result of her volunteer experience?

I see how enthusiastic the children are about learning and creating their masterpieces. 

I am collecting empty water bottles for the Chihuly chandeliers through Studer Group, Studer Education, and friends/family. 

During my last visit, the class gifted me with one of their Chihuly chandeliers and it is hanging beautifully in my office.

Sherwood GiftThis is the perfect organization for me and I thoroughly enjoy visiting EVERY week!

Margarette, thank you for capturing your excitement about your cool volunteer experience and your willingness to share it with our What’s Right in Education readers. And, most importantly, thank you for your commitment to students  in our local schools!




Margarette Johnson is a Partner Relations Coordinator at Studer Group and volunteers in the art classroom at Sherwood Elementary School, Escambia County School District (FL). The school’s mission is to educate and grow excited, self-sufficient learners; assist and support learning to help students fulfill their academic goals; and provide students the tools necessary to develop appropriate social interaction skills. Read more about Sherwood Elementary School on its website.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Likewise, our mission at Studer Group to make healthcare a better place for employees to work, physicians to practice medicine and patients to receive care. This volunteer experience and associated recycling/donation request represents one of many volunteer experiences of Studer Group employees and is an example of why Studer Group is a great place to work – an experience my colleagues and I recognize and  celebrate daily in working for a company ranked for the sixth straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and which was a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.