Close to two hundred elementary students packed into the South School gymnasium in Pittsfield before heading to class Tuesday. A large check sat against the wall unnoticed. That is, until Principal Angie Ruebush announced a special guest in the audience.
First Grade Teacher Rachel Markert, who stood in the back of the gym, had no idea she'd been selected as the first winner of KHQA's One Class At A Time, a program that helps meet the needs in classrooms across the Tri-States.
"Once she said it was for One Class At A Time, my heart started to beat because I thought, my gosh, there's no way," Markert, a first year teacher at South said. "And then she said my name and I just, I cried."
Markert says her mother encouraged her to apply for the $1,000 reward.
"I thought it was a long shot, but I may as well try," Markert said.
Markert said reading is a top priority in her class but her library is lacking.
"They read out of the same tub every day, because they have just that limited tub. And I said we might be getting some new books, and they all went 'yes!,' 'yes!' They were so excited about something as simple as a book. So, this is a really good opportunity to give them what they deserve," Markert said.
Now, Markert can enjoy the hunt for the best books on the shelves for her class of 20 eager readers.
"Behind me is a classroom library that everything in it is just what teachers gave me. So, I would like to purchase some new books, maybe from scholastic, some audio books. I would like a listening center in the classroom so students can listen to books on tape," Markert said.
It's a site you're sure to see in the coming months.
"Definitely, when you walk into my room in a month, you're going to see books everywhere of all kinds, big books, little books, audio books, every kind of book," Markert said.
If you are a teacher or administrator and are interested in taking part in KHQA's One Class At A Time project. find more details here .