Paul Carpenetti received a welcome shock last week.
The fifth-grade teacher at Laurel Woods Elementary School was surprised Wednesday with the news that his class would receive $1,000 worth of much-needed school supplies.
Carpenetti was one of four Maryland public school teachers, and more than 1,000 nationwide, selected as part of "A Day Made Better," a program sponsored by OfficeMax. In all, the Illinois-based office supplies retailer donated more than $1 million worth of supplies.
Teachers were selected by their principals after their schools were identified for need. Most of the schools chosen are Title 1 schools, which serve large numbers of low-income children, according to OfficeMax spokeswoman Beth M. Cleveland
Peggy Dumler, the principal at Laurel Woods, nominated Carpenetti for the award last spring when he was filling in as the school's assistant principal.
"I filled it out and kind of forgot about it," Dumler said. "I heard he won this fall. It was very challenging [to keep it a secret]."
Dumler said the bounty couldn't go to a more deserving staff member.
"He's an outstanding teacher," she said. "He's experienced. He does much above and beyond responsibilities."
The office supply retailer presented Carpenetti with a leather chair, paper, paper clips, hand wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, markers, staplers, glue, glue sticks, chalk board erasers and an electric pencil sharpener, Dumler said.
"He was in sheer shock," Dumler said, adding that Carpenetti's students cheered loudly upon hearing the news.
Teachers spend nearly $1,200 of their own money each year for basic classroom supplies, according to a national survey conducted by the National Education Association.
"It's astounding that Maryland teachers have to reach into their own wallets to buy basic classroom materials such as markers, posters and pencil sharpeners," said Bob Thacker, a senior vice president for OfficeMax. "It's time to act together so that our teachers can focus on educating our children, without worrying about where their classroom supplies will come from."
The other schools in Maryland that received free supplies were Edgecombe Circle Elementary in Baltimore, Dodge Park Elementary in Landover and Wheaton Woods Elementary in Rockville.
Walk To School Day
Students at Laurel Woods will be strolling to the campus Wednesday as part of International Walk To School Day.
All students will be encouraged to walk to school. Bus riders will be dropped off about a mile from school so that they can walk the rest of the way. The activity starts at 8:45 a.m.
Students are getting enthusiastic about the event, said Dumler, adding that some have made banners. All students will receive a prize for their participation.
"We'll talk about the importance of exercise," Dumler said.
This is the first year that the school has participated in the event.
"We're just continuing to do community outreach and highlighting the whole child," Dumler said.
Farmhands for a day
Four students from Murray Hill Middle School in Laurel worked as farmhands for a day last month at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine.
The visit was part of the Farm-City Celebration, which is a series of events to promote "understanding and appreciation between urban citizens and agriculture in Howard County," according to the school system.
The students - seventh-graders Andre Reynolds, Leah York and Brandon Thomas, and eighth-grader Jacqueline Gray - were chosen by Kevin Lee, the school's guidance counselor and organizer of the activity.
"I know most of the students, and I knew that they have an interest in animals and science," he said.
The students started the day with a tour of the farm, and were introduced to the horse- rescue program. The students quickly learned horse-care basics, and took part in activities such as feeding, watering, stall cleaning, grooming and handling.
The students shared their experiences with guests during the Farm City Luncheon at the Circle D Farm in Glenwood a few days later.
"I think it dispelled a lot of myths," said Lee, who grew up on a dairy farm. "I think it was an awesome experience. It really taught them a different way of life."
At least one of the students has expressed a desire to return to the farm and volunteer on a regular basis, Lee said.
"The kids had an awesome time," Lee said. "It was a very cool experience for the kids who live in this area to see that way of life and to see how farms contribute to everyday life."
Lee is eager to have his students participate in the program in the future.
Coffee with the board
The Board of Education will hold the next in a series of Coffee & Conversation sessions from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday in the Information Center at River Hill High.
The sessions, held at schools throughout the county, are open to the public and are intended to provide residents with an opportunity to have coffee and talk informally with board members, according to the school system.