School Receives ‘Buddy Bench’

The Illinois Education Association is proud to announce that it has awarded a $330 grant to a member of the Hawthorn Education Association. The school is expected to receive the bench in the spring.

WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger reports on the story here.

Elementary North Teachers Megan Wolf in conjunction with Betsy Gehlbach was awarded the grant as part of the IEA’s Schools and Community Outreach by Educators Program, which is a grant program designed to give educators in the first 10 years of their career a chance to apply for money for a service project.

The service program Ms. Wolf chose to do is the “Buddy Bench”. The “Buddy Bench” is a colorful bench located on the playground, and is used as a signal to let students know that someone is in need of buddy. Students who are new, feeling lonely or have no one to play with may sit on the Buddy Bench. Other students know that children sitting on the bench need a friend, so they feel comfortable asking the student to come play with them. Once a student has had personal experience using the bench, he or she is more likely to reach out to other students and foster new friendships. Ms. Wolf will be completing the project in partnership with the Elementary North Student Council, staff and student body.

In all, more than 50 grants were awarded to educators’ projects across the state. Educators’ ideas for projects were creative, varied and are based both inside and outside schools. All of them benefitted students, students’ families and the community.

Field trips, food pantries, plans to get parents involved in schools, increased access to supplies and community service projects were just some of the ideas that were funded.

“Another year of this program has resulted in a range of ideas submitted by our members and we are so pleased with such creative effort,” said IEA President Cinda Klickna.

“We know that our educators are in the schools every day giving 100 percent, but there are unmet needs as well. So many of them wanted to do more. It’s in their nature. We were glad to help them make their ideas come to fruition.”

The IEA represents more than 130,000 members, including teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty and staff, retired educators and students planning to become teachers.