Simpson donates to Teach for America alum’s classroom

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

Simpson donates unused furniture to alumna’s classroom

Less than a month after a Simpson College alumna returned to speak about her experiences teaching, members of the campus community have shown their generosity in a big way.

Nicole Cleveringa, a 2008 Simpson graduate, hosted a forum event on Nov. 12 where she discussed her experiences with Teach for America, an organization which aims to get rid of inequality in education by having their teachers work in inner-city schools.

Cleveringa currently teaches in Kansas City.

After the forum, Director of Procurement Marilyn Leek came up with the idea of donating several pieces of unused furniture on campus to Cleveringa’s classroom.

“Marilyn Leek’s church has a group that is interested in service,” Barb Ramos, assistant professor of education, said. “She decided to come to the event, where Mick (Terrizzi) and Nicole talked about what was missing in their classrooms.”

At the forum, which Ramos organized, Cleveringa described how classrooms don’t have enough chairs for all the students, and many of them have to share desks. In some instances, students have to sit on the floors.

After checking and finding a large amount of furniture that Simpson was not currently using, Leek decided to donate it to Cleveringa’s school.

Just a few weeks ago, the furniture was transported to Kansas City.

“(Simpson staff members) Jeff Wagner and Tom Marean drove the truck to Kansas City,” Ramos said. “It was Simpson staff who took care of everything.”

The donated furniture consisted of 30 tablet armchairs, 40 stack chairs, four student desks, one chalkboard and two bulletin boards.

“They were absolutely excited about the donation,” Ramos said. “Many times, Nicole and Mick talked about how much they, in their own education, had taken for granted. The donation has meant a lot for them as teachers and also for the students.”

Cleveringa herself was very surprised by the outpouring of support.

“We had a teacher who only had random odds and ends in her classroom,” Cleveringa said. “I was really excited that I now had furniture. I was also really grateful that somebody was willing to donate it.”

With Simpson’s donation, her classroom now has desks for students.

“I was incredibly surprised at how many people came (to the forum),” Cleveringa said. “It’s really reaffirmed why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Cleveringa’s students are just as excited as she is about the donation from Simpson.

“They now have a place to sit, and they have their own desk,” Cleveringa said.

Ramos said that the generosity of Simpson is quite common, but it doesn’t always get acknowledged for everyone to know about. Ramos said there are groups right now working to help make the holidays a better time for those who are less fortunate.

“Right now, there’s a student group taking donations for Wee-Care, and another for Urban Ministries,” Ramos said.

Ramos also gave one example of how she is working with groups raising awareness of shaken baby syndrome and how different departments on campus are collaborating to make it a team effort.

“The graphic design students in Dave Richmond’s class helped create brochures about it,” Ramos said. “The public relations department is helping to print those off. I think there’s a lot of (generosity) behind the scenes. It’s a giving, caring place.”