Support buoys Crestline teachers

Educators, students from burned school work to prepare new classrooms

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

Published:

 
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Amazing. Heartwarming. Generous.

Those are the words used by Crestline Elementary teachers and Evergreen Public Schools administrators to describe the outpouring of community support after the school was destroyed by fire Sunday. As the displaced Crestline teachers worked feverishly Wednesday to prepare their classrooms for their students' arrival this morning, the community reached out to them.

People from all around Clark County and beyond have stepped forward to help provide Crestline students and teachers what they lost in the fire, said Carol Fenstermacher, district spokeswoman.

An elderly woman on a fixed income donated $20 and said that's all she can afford at this point, but later in the month she hoped to give more. Wells Fargo announced it will donate $5,000 to the Evergreen Public Schools Foundation to support the teachers and students at Crestline Elementary. A school in Puyallup, 130 miles from Vancouver, is collecting school supplies for Crestline.

How to help Crestline Elementary

The best way to help is to make an online donation to the Evergreen Public Schools Foundation.

The foundation is earmarking all donations to the Crestline Elementary Principal's Checkbook fund.

Crestline second-grade teachers Pauleen Ross, Katie Van Ness and Luda Tupikov spent Wednesday setting up their new classrooms at Columbia Valley Elementary School.

Ross, who has taught at Crestline for 20 years, lost more than 3,000 books she had purchased with her own money.

An anonymous donor arrived at the district office with 27 gift cards worth $100 each so that Crestline teachers could buy books.

Retired teachers have donated their personal books they used in their own classroom libraries. Teachers at the host schools shared their own school supplies with the Crestline teachers Wednesday.

Crestline's Parent Teacher Organization brought lunch Wednesday to Crestline teachers at their host schools.

"It's been a huge Evergreen effort. So many people have wanted to help," said LeeAnne Stricklen, instructional coach at Columbia Valley.

Across the hall from Ross' classroom, Van Ness, an 18-year veteran Crestline teacher, was getting her new classroom into order.

"It's been a real whirlwind," Van Ness said.

Caster Karrer, 7, one of her students, dropped by the new classroom with his mom, Ashley Karrer, and sister Clara, 3.

"We came by to see if there's anything we can do. Anything we can bring," Ashley Karrer said.

Crestline teacher Tupikov grew up in the former Soviet Union, but now is an American citizen. She was assisted in her classroom by Kennedy Heideman, 8; Ally Schaefer, 9 and Abby Brown, 9, who were unpacking boxes of donated books and organizing them in tubs. All three girls are Columbia Valley students whose mothers teach at that school.

"I believe that Americans are the most giving people. I regret that I lost so many things in my classroom," Tupikov said. "But without this tragedy, I would never have realized how supportive this community is. People are more important than things. It's just stuff that can burn."

The Evergreen Public Schools Foundation has a program called the Principal's Checkbook to buy things the principal can't buy with district money. The money being donated to the foundation is being added to Crestline's Principal's Checkbook fund for Principal Bobbi Hite. The foundation on Wednesday presented Hite with a new Principal's Checkbook. Hers burned in the fire.


Susan Parrish:360-735-4515; susan.parrish@columbian.com; Twitter:col_schools.