2006 Mrs. Richard's Students Dare to Care

At Durling Middle School and Clearview High School, the Life Skills and Independent Living students are rising to their teacher's challenge- dare to care. As part of this year's curriculum their teacher, Mrs. Sharron Richards, is providing opportunities to help her students look beyond themselves and to recognize the needs of others in their community. While doing this, they are discovering just how they can have a positive affect on those less fortunate by using the skills they are learning in her classes.

With the help of three grants Mrs. Richards received from the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County, the students are using math, language arts, clothing construction, nutrition and food preparation skills to benefit others through "Dare to Care" projects. After making heart-shaped fleece pillows for area mastectomy patients, the students received a thank you from Joyce Forristell, Breast Health Coordinator at St. John's Westshore. She said, "I have been showing off your pillows to hospital employees and we are all so impressed with your craftmanship...Take pride in knowing that you have provided comfort and made someone smile during a very difficult period in their life."

Families in the Clearview School District who received food baskets from the Student Council for the holidays found more than just the usual canned goods. This year, after a lesson on proper measuring techniques, the special education students practiced their new skills by making cookie mixes in a jar for each family. For the patients at the Veterans Hospital, the apple pie recipe students had prepared in class was revised and made into sugar-free tarts. The students were so proud, and the vets so excited. A thank you note from the Ladies VFW Auxiliary who delivered the treats said, "Thank you for making these very delicious pies for the patients at the VA Hospital...It was really appreciated by the vets and Post members."

Not to forget the troops in Iraq, the 7th and 8th grade students at Durling have been busy using their newly acquired sewing skills to make patriotic pillows and Christmas stockings for care packages sent to the soldiers. The students were thrilled when they recently received a letter and photo from one of those soldiers, SGM Richard Mack. It was especially meaningful because his letter said, "I wanted to say thank you for the pillow and stocking that you sent to me here in Iraq. I appreciate your thoughtfulness...I also wanted to let you know that I went to Durling and graduated from Clearview HS in 1981. My parents still live in Lorain (Nancy and Paul Young), so I have a warm place in my heart for all of you back in Lorain."

With half of the school year yet to go, there are many more "Dare to Care" projects in the works and opportunities for the students to apply what they are learning to everyday living. While the students benefit from the positive reinforcement these activities provide, it is also reassuring for Mrs. Richards to see the enthusiasm and pride of her students that result from doing something for others. "It warms my heart to watch them putting their time and talents into each project and to see their smiles of satisfaction when then the job is done."