The Mobile Classroom: New nonprofit caters to ill and home-bound students -- for free

Categories: Education, News

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It took almost losing her job for Sara Woodyard to realize she couldn't have done enough with it anyway. Facing the end of the probation period that marked the first three years of her work life, Woodyard, a fifth-grade teacher, developed an acute awareness of what budget cuts can mean to those inside the classroom -- and those outside of it. When Sara was cut, too, she went mobile.

Yesterday marked the first official day of the nonprofit Woodyard and teaching partner Stephanie Peters created to focus on ill and injured students. The Mobile Classroom will take to the roads to tutor students whose health prevents them from attending traditional classrooms. The idea: No sick child should be left behind.

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"Our classroom budgets were being cut dramatically, and we thought, 'What happens to the kids who can't get to the classroom?''" recalls Woodyard, who taught a wide range of subjects during three years at a public school in Federal Heights. "They're recovering for cancer or organ transplants, and their educational services are being cut down worse than ours. The one home-bound teacher per district on average isn't enough to help every student to the level he or she needs."

Although the newly minted nonprofit comes with high standards of education and an elevated moral code, it's low on financial pay-off. Woodyard and Peters are currently its only two employees, and their educational attention is dedicated entirely to their sole client, a sixth-grade girl recovering from a heart transplant at the Ronald McDonald House.

While they wait for their roster to increase, the two dedicate time not spent tutoring to recruit both students and a cadre of teacher volunteers. Woodyard and Peters are certified in all subjects K-12, but this restricts The Mobile Classroom from catering to high school students or offering specialists in more advanced subjects.

"We're looking for teachers who are enthusiastic about their profession, passionate about working with kids and understand the need of public education," Woodyard says. "We want to ensure that the kids who are most in need of support, from illness or from poverty, receive the same access to and level of education that their peers do."

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