Hanford Dole teachers bring Halloween to Weant Street Apartments
By Sarah Campbell
EAST SPENCER - They weren't dressed the part, but three teachers from Hanford Dole Elementary School were sure acting like fairy godmothers Wednesday as they stood in the parking lot of Weant Street Apartments giving out candy and school supplies.
Katiearl Etters, Rachel Pirozzolo and Sally Schultz, fifth-grade teachers at the school, decided that, instead of simply handing out candy in their classrooms, they would go to their students and offer a unique trick-or-treating experience.
The women, joined by parent volunteers and a couple of members of the North Rowan Connection mentoring group, gathered at the parking lot with a cooler filled with candy and boxes with notebook paper, composition books and pencils at 5 p.m. and waited for the kids to come.
By 5:15 p.m., they were surrounded by a large crowd of children chatting and laughing.
Etters, the fifth-grade lead teacher, said when the women started brainstorming ways to have an impact on students, they all agreed that they needed to be part of their lives outside of the classroom.
"There's only so much you can do from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day," she said. "We wanted to get out and meet parents and be able to put a face to a name."
Throughout the year, the women have gone to fundraisers, athletic events and more to support their students.
So, when Halloween rolled around it seemed natural they would do something.
"A lot of kids have said they've never trick-or-treated or dressed up in a costume," Schultz said. "That hit us because those are the fun things we remember about Halloween."
Schultz said they opted to go to Weant Street Apartments because it's a low-income area that includes a number of neighborhoods within walking distance for children and their parents.
She said she's hoping the trick-or-treat will help build a sense of trust between the parents and teachers.
"Hopefully, they'll see that we care," she said.
The women, along with other teachers from the school, donated the candy for the event. Communities in Schools of Rowan County provided the school supplies.
Schultz said they rode a bus to the neighborhood Tuesday after school to hand out flyers so parents would know they would be there.
Kami Alford, who lives near Weant Street, brought her sons, Jeremiah, 5, and Michael, 3, to the trick-or-treat Wednesday.
"I think it's awesome they are doing this on their own just for the kids," she said. "It really shows how much the Hanford Dole teachers care."
Trutelia Smith, a parent volunteer with three children, said she was thrilled to hear the teachers were coming to the neighborhood.
"It's good for the kids to see something positive because they're always seeing something negative down here," she's aid. "They have been so excited about it."
Evlynn Byers, who brought her 2-year-old son, Ayden, to the event, said it's good the teachers showed up.
"A lot of the people down here don't even give out candy," she said.
Schultz said this won't be the last time the teachers will be reaching out. They plan to host parent nights later this year.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.