Seattle Schools

Making a Tangible Impact

Andy is a busy man. Father of two small boys, and Dean of Students at Echo Lake Elementary, his schedule is full. But every spring and fall for almost 10 years, he’s made time to help his students participate in Sister Schools’ supply drives. Andy, and educators like him, are the reason our programs can happen at all! We’re so grateful to have so many caring teachers on board with our mission to teach students that they can make a difference, no matter their own background. 

For Andy, it’s the tangible impact that students can actually see that makes our program stand out. 

Andy has actually worked with Sister Schools at two different schools. He spent years helping manage the program as a teacher at Fernwood Elementary. When he took on a new role at Echo Lake, he was excited to learn that they are also a Sister Schools partner! 

As someone who has really valued his own experiences traveling, Andy loves helping kids connect with the world beyond their own upper-left corner of the US. He explains, “When kids start to understand different places and contexts, they become more tolerant, more understanding, and more empathetic.” Andy remembers traveling to India for the first time and being confronted with abject poverty there in a way he never had at home. He can’t take his students to India, but with Sister Schools, he can help share that same transformative moment of understanding. 

As a child, Andy remembers participating in fundraisers and other charity events himself, but it was never tangible the way it is in Sister School’s program. Bake sales and 5Ks with monetary goals are incredibly worthwhile, of course, but the participants are removed from the impact. And that’s what Andy loves so much about Sister Schools – the students can really see the difference they’re making. 

During return presentations, we show students photos of children who receive items they donated. “When they see the gifts there’s that physical correlation,” Andy says. “They KNOW they’ve made a difference.”  

Andy remembers one 2nd grader who donated a simple box of markers. When she brought them in, she didn’t think that they could make a difference. “They probably have loads of these,” she said. Our staff tried to explain that many of the students we serve in Uganda have likely never seen markers before, let alone had a box of their own – but the words didn’t click for her. It wasn’t until we did return presentations that she really understood. There was a photo of another girl, just like her, holding the very box of markers she had donated with a huge smile on her face. Seeing the obvious excitement in the other child’s photo, this little 2nd grader finally understood. “I didn’t realize that was going to make such a difference!” she said.  

That’s the type of excitement that keeps Andy interested in working with Sister Schools, year after year. He explained that for weeks after return presentations the kids keep talking about Sister Schools, and the students who received their gifts. Even the next year, returning students remember the impact they were able to make and are even more excited to give again. 

We completely agree with Andy – we love seeing kids giving for kids, and helping them understand that they can make a tangible difference no matter their background. We’re so glad we’ve got great supporters like Andy and all our other selfless educators who make this program possible. 

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