By Josh Wucher
Stephanie Marsteller was not expecting a personal call from a popular Instagram personality with millions of followers after submitting an entry to the influencer’s holiday challenge. The G.W. Carver Indian Spring Middle School sixth-grade math teacher entered The Bucket List Family’s sneaky elf challenge to help give away thousands of dollars to help someone in need.
“The mother just really loved what I wrote,” Marsteller said about her submission, which explained the circumstances around the middle school’s merger after a fire destroyed the G.W. Carver campus in the summer of 2021.
“These are the kids I work with every day, and of course, I want to do anything I can for them. She Facetimed me to say how much she loves our story and wants to be part of it by helping our students.
Marsteller knew a perfect fit was to have the Gee family, the actual Bucket List family, sponsor 10 students in the school’s Winter Village program. Communities in Schools runs the adopt-a-student event, which aims to alleviate some of the stress of the holiday season by taking care of students’ gift wish lists.
“We know that the holiday season can be a difficult time for families in need,” Stefanie LeBlanc, CIS site coordinator, said. “For me, the holidays have always been about the kids, and I want our parents to know we are here to support them. My thought behind the Winter Village name is the quote, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”
The program asks sponsors to provide at least one basic need and one want for a student. Requested items have included sheets, backpacks, clothes and food, with wants spanning skateboards to sports equipment, sketchbooks, books, games and puzzles. The program served six students when it started three years ago, then 26 students, followed by 36 last year.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the community and our teachers this year. It’s been awesome,” LeBlanc said. “When Mrs. Marsteller reached out about Instagram, I was so excited! With the help of staff, community partners, friends and family, we helped 50 kids. Everyone who applied was served.”
G.W. Carver principal says that campus will “heal and thrive together.”
By Josh Wucher
After an early morning fire, students and staff from G.W. Carver Middle School are learning that they will move to Indian Spring Middle School until a new G.W. Carver campus is built. In the days ahead, Waco ISD and Transformation Waco will work through the details of the move to make sure that both schools have everything they need for the start of a new school year next month.
The Indian Spring campus has space for more than 900 students but is projected to enroll just over 500 students for the 2021-2022 school year. Meanwhile, G.W. Carver is projected to enroll about 460 students for 2021-2022. Both campuses are operated by Transformation Waco as part of an in-district charter partnership with Waco ISD.
“I want to reassure everyone that while we’re coping with the loss of our historic campus, we’ll press forward,” said Dr. Isaac Carrier, principal at Carver. “Panthers take care of each other, and Panthers take care of our business day in and day out. G.W. Carver Middle School is more than a building. It’s the people, and it’s the legacy that they carry with them each day. We will heal and thrive together. This coming school year will be different than we expected, but it can and will still be a great year.”
Indian Spring Principal Joseph Alexander said: “Our campus has plenty of space for both Bulldogs and Panthers. While we share the sadness that comes with the loss of a historic school building, we want our neighbors to know that they are welcome here. The team at Indian Spring Middle School will work every day to make sure that everyone has a great school year.”
Staff from the two campuses, Transformation Waco, and Waco ISD will continue working through the logistics of the move. Additional information will be shared with families and employees as it becomes available.
In the meantime, Transformation Waco and Waco ISD are working to arrange counseling services for Carver students and employees, as well as community members, who would like to talk with someone about the fire. Counseling services will be available on Wednesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 29, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Estella Maxey Place Apartments (1809 J J Flewellen Road, Waco).
G.W. Carver families can visit Indian Spring, as well as any Waco ISD campus this week for assistance registering their children for the 2021-2022 school year. Registration help will also be available at Carver Baptist Park on Thursday, July 29 and Friday, July 30 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Online registration is also available at wacoisd.org/register.
“Please know that our minds and hearts are with our Carver family and the East Waco community, as we process the loss from this morning’s fire,” said Dr. Robin McDurham, Transformation Waco’s chief executive officer. “While we haven’t worked out all of the details yet, we know that G.W. Carver students will have a welcoming place to learn at Indian Spring. They’ll have safe transportation to and from the school, and nutritious and delicious school meals will be waiting for them.”
Anyone interested in helping can donate gift cards to Transformation Waco to assist teachers and staff with replacing classroom supplies and other materials that were lost in the fire. Physical gift cards from Walmart, Target or H-E-B, can be mailed to or dropped off at Transformation Waco’s office (3005 Edna Ave., Waco, TX, 76708). Electronic gift cards can also be emailed to [email protected].
“We are especially grateful for the incredible work of the Waco Fire Department as well as the other first responders who were on the scene this morning,” said Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISD’s superintendent. “During the pandemic, I’ve seen our district come together and support one another in extraordinary ways. I have no doubt that we can overcome any challenges created by this fire and keep doing what it takes to take care of our students and employees.”
The first day of the 2021-2022 school year in Waco ISD is Aug. 23. All students will be learning in-person this year.
Joshua Wucher is Waco ISD’s executive director for communications.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].