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Guest blog: What Outreach to Teach means to me

Outreach to Teach (O2T) is the Indiana Student Education Association’s (ISEA) annual community service project. This year, ISEA will host O2T at Evans School in Evansville on April 8. Volunteers are still needed and donations continue to be accepted. For more information, visit

Katie Schmidt, ISEA co-chair of O2T, blogged on the importance of this service project and what it means to her as a pre-service educator.

Committing to Positive Change
Katie Schmidt

When describing Outreach to Teach, I often use the phrase “Extreme Home Makeover, school edition.” We may not knock down whole school buildings, but we do transform learning environments with paint, flowers and the helping hands of volunteers.

As the Outreach to Teach committee co-chair, I had the opportunity to visit this year’s nominated schools, and each building had its own unique needs. I toured an elementary school whose courtyard held potential as an outdoor learning space but was littered with trash and dangerous holes. I learned of an elementary school recently deemed a middle school, now bursting at the seams in trying to accommodate its larger occupants.

Despite these buildings’ differences, a common thread wove through each school visit: educators committed to serving students. Principals, teachers and custodial staff highlighted their buildings’ needs, but they also told their schools’ stories. They spoke of students’ favorite places to play, teachers’ innovative solutions to building issues and their communities’ investment in these public schools. Time and again, I witnessed educators’ true passion for providing the best public education for all students and their undaunted pursuit of achieving this aim.       

We selected Evans School for this year’s Outreach to Teach. Its dismal, gray walls bear little of the cheer that you would expect in a typical elementary school, and the school population’s high, free and reduced lunch rate reflects a lack of community funds for meeting this building’s needs. Though only one building can serve as the location for Outreach, I hope that this project motivates others to take action in improving their local schools. All students deserve an inviting and safe atmosphere in which to learn and grow, and as advocates for public education, we can help accomplish this goal at Evans School and beyond.

Outreach to Teach serves as a wonderful opportunity for positive transformation, both in a school and in ourselves. To see aspiring, current and retired public educators gather together for a single, transformative purpose is nothing short of inspiring. Though much is out of our control, we can pick up a paintbrush and make a positive difference in the lives of students and teachers. Let’s all gather on April 8 in Evansville and show that public education is worth our time, our effort and our commitment.