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Schoolcraft teachers go on blind missions to serve community

Pioneer Photo/Monte DraperMonday was a day of volunteering and spontaneous adventure for staff from Schoolcraft Learning Community. SLC teachers were sent on blind missions to complete community service projects for four organizations in Bemidji. From left, Will Naylor, Chris Carlson and Brooke Wichmann work outside Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, while Sara Breeze cleans windows inside.

They were told to meet early yesterday morning at a parking lot outside of Bemidji.

"Bring grubby clothes, a sleeping bag, and a pillow," was written on a letter addressed to all Schoolcraft Learning Community teachers from Principal Scott Anderson.

Knowing very little about the "where" and "when" of their task, SLC teachers were sent on blind missions to complete community service projects throughout Bemidji.

Service project locations included the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, the Boys & Girls Club of the Bemidji Area, Mount Zion Church and the Evergreen House.

The teachers were placed on teams of seven or eight. Each team picked a team leader, who was in charge of directing the team's mission.

Anderson gave each team leader an envelope with a letter directing the team members to a destination in need of volunteers for a project. Tasks were coordinated ahead of time by Anderson, so when the teams of teachers arrived they could begin work right away.

"I wanted to make the staff's service project day fun, spontaneous and challenging, with a theme similar to "The Amazing Race" show," said Anderson.

The teachers worked at their first location from 8:30 a.m. until lunch. After lunch, they were given another envelope sending them to Concordia Language Villages to assist in painting and staining projects.

"Before this morning we didn't know what we would be doing, so it's been a fun adventure," said team leader and teacher Sara Breeze. "We still have no idea where we're staying tonight."

Breeze's team of teachers spent the morning weeding and cleaning flower gardens and washing windows at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts.

"To have a group of people willing to lend a hand is inspirational," said Janet Brademen, executive director of the music school. "In the past I had to round up family to do this job, so it's nice to have so many willing volunteers."

Brademan says she plans to offer the SLC a service day where the Headwaters School will give back to the SLC.

At the Boys & Girls Club, teachers worked on spreading mulch around the community garden.

"This wouldn't have gotten done had these teachers not volunteered," said Karl Mork, program director at the Boys & Girls Club.

Unlike "The Amazing Race" show, the teams were not progressively eliminated, and the team that arrived first was not awarded a grand prize of $1 million.

Instead, teachers were awarded with dirty hands, muddy jeans and firsthand awareness of volunteerism and its positive affect on the community.

"We have our staff do service projects to help them encourage their students to become significant contributors to their community," said Anderson.

Schoolcraft is an Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound public charter school, which works to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to be of service to their community.

"This is the healthiest working community I've ever been a part of," said William Naylor, a special education paraprofessional at SLC.

After full day's work, the teams received their final mystery destination. They set up camp for the night at the Concordia Language's Russian Village to rest up for today's teacher workshop activities.