ZEPHYRHILLS — Woodland Elementary School is reaching out to find volunteers to partner with the school for a new program called “Team Woodland.”
Team Woodland is an effort to get the local community involved in sponsoring individual classrooms.
Community partners are asked to adopt a classroom. They may volunteer their time in the class, support student recognition efforts, fund field trip opportunities or technology purchases for the classroom and be a role model and positive influence. An average class size is 18 to 25 students.
The Woodland Wranglers, led by Principal Kim Poe, prepared breakfast for business owners and community organizers recently at the school to hear a presentation on the new initiative.
Poe said the school has adopted the theme of Team Woodland this year using sports team analogies for their goals and methods of education.
“We want to make sure you feel like you’re part of our team,” Poe said. “Woodland is recruiting you to make a difference in our community. Here at Woodland, we recognize the fact that it surely takes a team effort to successfully educate a child in the 21st century.”
Poe explained the background leading up to the Team Woodland concept.
“We want [the students] to know that we believe in them and that there is hope. We know that the only way to break the cycle of poverty is education,” she said.
“We have 930 students here at Woodland, and 78 percent of them are on free and reduced lunch, which means they are coming from impoverished homes,” Poe said. “We recognize the fact that they may not be talking about college at home. Three years ago, we came up with the initiative that we aren’t going to give these kids excuses and feel sorry for them, we’re going to expect more and believe in them so that they can believe in themselves.”
Poe spoke of her own childhood growing up in a single-parent home with limited finances and how she wanted to be a teacher and how she accomplished the goal through her pursuit of education. She also said she always knew she wanted to return to her own community to work.
“I am a lifelong Zephyrhills resident, and I was one of those kids who never said, ‘Oh, when I graduate I’m out of here,’” Poe said. “I hear that, and that’s something I want to change. We need more young people wanting to live and work and prosper in this community.”
The campus is decorated in college banners and flags, and teachers talk to students about attending college, take them on college field trips and teach them about goal-setting.
“The decisions they make academically now will impact what classes they get in middle school, and then the decisions they make in middle school will impact the classes they’re allowed to take in high school,” Poe said.
“By adopting a classroom, you can make a positive difference,” Poe said. “When we all gather for the greater good, we all prosper, our businesses prosper, our schools prosper and Zephyrhills will prosper.”
Businesses interested in being involved can call the school at (813) 794-6413 or email Parent Involvement Coordinator Sarah Belmonte, at sbelmont@ pasco.k12.fl.us.