One Class at a Time: Willow Bend Elementary teacher, The Parenting Cottage awarded $500

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Willow Bend Elementary teacher Mariah Caskey is the final 2021-2022 recipient of KCBD’s One Class At A Time $500 donation and recognition sponsored by Frontier Dodge and Spirit Chrysler.

“It’s pretty special,” Caskey said. “It shows me that what I’m doing it matters. It matters. It means a lot.”

Caskey is in her second year teaching Kindergarten at the Frenship ISD school.

“I grew up in a family of teachers,” Caskey said. “My mom’s a teacher. My sister’s a teacher. Really, I think it’s just the impact, being able to impact so many lives. I always tell my kids every day when they come in, this is your safe place I’m here for you always. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in, where you are. My goal is to create that safe space for them, because a lot of them don’t have that and that’s anywhere you go. For me, I want to be their voice and I want them to know that they have that voice. I feel like this is the best profession to do that.”

Caskey has also been at Willow Bend Elementary for two other years, first as a paraprofessional and then as a third grade teacher. She told KCBD that having the chance to teach young people is something special.

“They’re very genuine kiddos and they’ll tell you like it is,” Caskey said. “They have so much creativity and they’re such big thinkers. We don’t usually think about that for younger kids. For me to be able to be around that every day and then see that every day is just, it’s amazing.”

The program gives the teacher a chance to choose a charity or nonprofit organization that will receive $500. Caskey chose The Parenting Cottage.

“They counsel young parents, they give diapers, they give car seats, they do so much work for young families and that’s the business that we’re in,” Caskey said. “The parent is the first teacher so if we can get that at an early start, it just does wonders for these kiddos.”

The Parenting Cottage is also in the business of insuring literacy is part of the young families’ lives.

“Everything we do is free so we really can use this money for our prenatal program,” Program Manager Sherry McDuff said. “Plus, we provide books for our families and in the community where we do story times out in the community. Our goal is to buy a book for every family and fill their libraries with those books.”

McDuff said they are appreciative of the selection by Ms. Caskey and are reassured knowing The Parenting Cottage name is spreading through the community.

“We are a nonprofit and we live and die by the help of the community,” McDuff said. “We have a lot of people and community resources available for our families, because we’re part of United Way too. We just need that participation from the community to help us help others.”

The One Class at a Time program seeks ensure those charitable organizations and teachers have the resources they need to continue to better our community and young minds.

“It’s exciting to go out to the different schools and see the differences between the schools, what activities they have to offer,” Rick Harrison, General Manager of Frontier Dodge said. “We get to learn more about all these nonprofit organizations. There’s so much more here in Lubbock than I was aware of several years ago when we first started this and it’s just exciting to see the local impact that it does and how it affects our kids and the surrounding communities.”

To learn more about One Class at a Time, click here.

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