Student volunteers help out

Students for Teachers members Robyn Hightman, Abby Lintecum, Hannah Corbin,  Jonathan Corbin, Rachel Hightman, Jamie Fletcher and Kayla Corredera-Wells recently raised funds in front of the E W Thomas grocery store.Siblings Jonathan Corbin, who is in ninth grade, and Hannah Corbin, 11th, started Students for Teachers in response to school budget cuts that have left many teachers wondering if they are appreciated.

As is de rigueur for any group, they have a website and a Facebook page touting their goal of collecting supplies and money to be put toward grants for teachers who need extra funds for their classrooms.

The Sechlers also told the crowd about a group, Packed for Success, started by Bree Key three years ago. Key, who is in ninth grade, wanted to help students who didn’t have money to buy school supplies.

Together the groups are planning a community awareness/fundraising event at Pleasant Grove from 2-6 p.m. Aug. 5 to tie in with the open house and ribbon cutting ceremony at the new high school.

The Sechlers read from a letter written by Students for Teachers member Kayla Corredera.

“We hope to also raise enough money to be able to give out some kind of reward to those teachers at the end of the year who have gone that extra mile to make their classes the best they can be,” the Sechlers said. “Talk is cheap. Action is what will make the difference. So we are willing to take the first steps in helping make education in Fluvanna the best it can be.”

After the girls urged board members to visit their website, everyone on the board and those in the audiences were beaming with pride as if they were the parents of the articulate children.

After the meeting, board Chairman Shaun Kenney talked about the need for community entrepreneurship.

“Everyone knows the secret to better education is volunteerism and family involvement,” Kenney said. ”I’m very excited to see groups such as these stand up and get involved, because at the end of the day, personal and direct volunteerism trumps government every time. Folks couldn’t be more pleased to see students supporting deserving teachers, because the more we start looking to ourselves for the solutions that are all around us, the stronger a community we will become.”

Bree was in sixth grade when she noticed some students didn’t have enough supplies to start the school year. She asked her mother, then Fluvanna Middle School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) President Gequetta Key, what she could do to help. Out of that discussion came Packed for Success.

Key held a “fill the bus” event July 27 – 29 at WalMart, where shoppers could donate school supplies.

In an email, the busy teen who was at basketball camp talked about her charity:

“Packed for Success gives the backpacks, school supplies, music, art and sports equipment directly to the schools — clothes too,” Key wrote. “I ask for gently used items including open packs of paper or pens around the house that people are just not using. We clean them up and repackage them. I ask college and high school graduates to give us their old backpacks. Student groups at UVa. and PVCC assist as well. [It’s] a way to recycle. Some people can’t afford to go out and buy stuff.”

Key said last year her group helped 400 families.

Abigail Lintecum, who is in ninth grade, joined Students for Teachers because she knows first-hand how important teachers are to a student’s education. Her father is a Fluvanna physical education instructor and coach.

She said she’s witnessed people stopping her mother in stores when they find out what her last name is.

“They’ll say, ‘Your husband is Coach Lintecum? He’s the reason I’m not on drugs.’ Or ‘He’s why I’m not pregnant at 16,’” Abigail said. “That’s helped open my eyes to how much a teacher really influences students.”

Bree talked about how the two groups got together.

“They (Jon and Hannah Corbin) and their mom approached my mom at our house about starting an organization to do something for teachers,” Bree said. “ … maybe they asked her because she is president of the PTO… and with all the stuff happening about the schools at the time she was a person they could talk to about what to do and who to connect with. And she guided us all in the beginning. Mrs. Cindy helped too. You know how moms are. Both organizations have met and worked together.”

Bree said the groups have about 30 drop sites throughout Fluvanna and Charlottesville, collecting supplies for students and teachers through Aug. 6. The boxes are divided so a person can donate to whichever organization they want. All schools and the administration buildings are drop sites.

Focus on Fluvanna’s Future is one of the community groups that started after the Board of Supervisors voted to trim more than $2 million from the school budget. Kerry Murphy-Hammond is a co-founder and supported Packed for Success during its fill-the-bus event.

“We are aware of and so very proud of the groups,” Murphy-Hammond said. “They truly exemplify what the majority of our county residents believe in: helping our fellow Fluvanians! It’s wonderful how Bree Key saw a problem and came up with such an impactful solution. Focus on Fluvanna’s Future is actively asking our members to participate in the student and teacher supply drives. Our members have also worked with the students to identify local merchants willing to be drop-off points. We are also hoping all of our members will attend the August fifth event — it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity for the county to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of our students. We can’t think of a better way to kick off the new school year!”

Kayla, who wrote the letter the Sechler girls read at the Board meeting, said she wanted to help teachers, but at first didn’t know how.

“I knew our schools were having issues, but didn’t know how to help until recently when Mrs. Cindy Corbin came and talked to us,” Kayla said.

Kayla, along with Abigail, baked items to sell from the Student for Teachers booth. Jon, Hannah and their parents bought materials to build a booth shaped like a calculator out of which they sell lemonade and baked goods. They’ve been outside of E.W. Thomas and at the farmers market at Crofton Plaza. Jon, who is a boy scout, said it was getting involved last year in the school Student Government Association that awakened his desire to be active in his community.

School Superintendent Gena Keller couldn’t be more proud of the students.

“The effort from our student-formed group is a remarkable reminder of the support that we have in our community,” Keller said.

“Sadly, it is also a reminder that many of our students are sensitive to the tough economy because it has impacted them at home and at school. Most students will tell you that they love their teachers and are grateful for them — this is one way those students can “give back” to so many who have given to them. It’s a wonderful effort!”

Kayla said she hoped what she and her fellow students are doing helps teachers feel appreciated.

“I hope the teachers a have a good year,” she said. “I know it may not be the best, but because of all they do for us we wanted to do something for them and hopefully they’ll have a better year than they were expecting.”


Sunday Aug. 5, 2 – 6 p.m. Pleasant Grove event

Students For Teachers and Packed For Success plan an educational and fun-filled day for people of all ages.
They will have family games such as checkers, softball, story time and ring toss as well as sack races. They also plan a “really cool science demo,” said Jonathan Corbin.

Exhibitors include:

  • Farm Bureau
  • Fork Union Rescue Squad
  • Fluvanna County Library
  • Girl Scouts
  • Junior Naturalists
  • 4H
  • County Parks and Recreation
  • Destination Imagination

Concessions will be Washington Shaved Ice and Two Js BBQ.

For more information go to or email

For more information on Packed For Success, call Bree Key at 434-227-9674, email: or go the website:

Photos by David Stemple.

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