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Update: Granby Parents, Students & Staff help neighboring community

On August 27, 2018 the Granby staff & students were presented with the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Educators of the Year award for their effort in helping move dates.

Award Presentation

Earlier Story from a blog by Dr. Bowers:

Worthington parent Pete Crozier works for Junior Achievement BizTown. He sent me the following on February 16th which I’m passing along because it’s just AWESOME!

“Worthington is a place where parents step up. Where educators work long into the evening preparing for the next day. Where politicians give their time to make their community a better place. Where first-responders risk their lives for our safety.

Which leads me to today.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, we got the news. We found out that the Westerville School District would be closed today so the community could grieve and attend the funerals of the two police officers who had been killed in the line of duty last week.

I can’t stress this enough. The closing of the schools was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, it meant that the 5th grade students at Wilder Elementary in Westerville would not be able to attend JA BizTown today because their school would be closed.

JA BizTown is sold out. We have no open dates on which Wilder was available to attend.

The students had been preparing for JA BizTown for a month. They had learned about what it means to be a good citizen. About how to write a check, use a debit card and update a check register. About how money flows through an economy. They had interviewed for jobs and were ready to go to work! We often hear from students that JA BizTown is “the best day of their lives.”

But now, these kids, these precious innocent kids, who had lost two police officers this week to senseless violence, were told that they wouldn’t be able to come to JA BizTown.

They were devastated.

Lynn Holland, a teacher at Wilder, called me. Her voice was breaking over the phone. “These kids have ... they have already been through so much. Is .... is there anything you can do to help? Could another school swap dates with us?"

I was at a loss. There’s weeks of preparation in the classroom that goes into getting ready for JA BizTown. No school would be far enough along in the curriculum to be ready in 24 hours.

Nevertheless, I picked up the phone and started calling schools that were scheduled to come to JA BizTown next week. I was going to ask a teacher to get ready in ONE DAY.

I called a few schools and got voice mails. Remember, it’s already 4:00pm on Wednesday. Teachers are gone. Offices are closed.

I had a cell phone for Tina Swearengin, a teacher at Worthington’s Granby Elementary. They were scheduled to come next Friday.

I called and she answered. I explained the situation. We have a community in crisis. I repeated the Wilder Elementary teacher’s question, “Is there anything you can do to help?”

Without hesitation, she said she’d try.

The wheels were turning.

She called her principal, Patti Schlaegel.

Patti is the mother of two Columbus police officers and I quickly got the word that she was going to move Heaven and Earth to help the kids from Westerville.

Mind you, there are a million moving parts to a JA BizTown visit. This date change would have to be approved by the school district, by the curriculum director, by the transportation director, by the bus driver, by the teachers, by the principal, by the students, by our staff and by the volunteers.

A million moving parts. Be ready in ONE DAY.

I went to bed on Wednesday not knowing if Granby was going to be able to pull it off.

I got the call in the morning.

Yes, they could switch dates allowing the Westerville school to come next week. The Granby volunteers who had been scheduled for next week, cleared their schedules. They are here today. Other people who had not previously registered as volunteers, stepped up. They are here today. Our staff, who had been given the day off, stepped up. They are here today.

I had emailed my kids’ elementary school and explained the situation to Laura Brown who then sent an all-call to Worthington Hills’ parents, asking if they could support the Granby students at JA BizTown. Several people contacted me. Mike Sloma answered the call. He is here today, supporting someone else’s school, someone else’s child.

So why did I tell the story about our college visits? What’s the relevance of our visits to Wake Forest and Duke and two Westerville police officers’ funerals three years later?

The point is this.

Tina Swearengin raised her hand.

She said, “Pick me. I’ll work harder. I’ll sacrifice. I’ll help.”

Patti Schlaegel raised her hand.

She said, “Pick me. I’ll work harder. I’ll sacrifice. I’ll help.”

The Worthington School District, the curriculum director, the transportation director, the bus driver. They raised their hands. Laura Brown, Mike Sloma, JA Staff and all of today’s volunteers raised their hands. The teachers and students from Granby Elementary all raised their hands.

They all said, “Pick me. I’ll work harder. I’ll sacrifice. I’ll help.”

And I couldn’t be more proud.

We teach financial literacy at JA BizTown, but today’s lesson is about community.

Each staff member and volunteer will thank the teachers and students for their sacrifices that made today possible.

They will talk to the students about philanthropy and the fact that it’s not just about donating money. It’s about donating time. It’s about donating wisdom. It’s about donating their ears and eyes and hearts and shoulders.

They will talk to the kids about other ways they may be able to help. Maybe Granby and Wilder Elementary schools can become pen pals? Maybe they can become “sister schools,” supporting and learning from each other?

Today, maybe, just maybe, through our grief we will find grace.


It’s not about paychecks and promotions.

It’s about passion and purpose. Today I was reminded of mine.”

Thank You Note from Westerville School