MANOR TOWNSHIP – Joan Moore taught extended day Kindergarten at Lenape Elementary for 25 years. For her, it was more than a job – it was a passion to motivate students into lifelong learning. So now in retirement, the 68-year-old educator has spent the last seven years continuing her involvement in the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and organizing summer reading programs.
“I save every year July to do this, the whole month of July to do this. Don’t go on vacation because the kids are important.”
Moore sends out a letter in May for student registration. She then sends them a reminder two-weeks before the start of the program. She said about 50 elementary students in Kindergarten through sixth grade participate. This year, the program is called “Building a New World.”
“On the first week, we had teamwork, building together. We read the book, “The Three Little Pigs” and each student got to make one of the three houses – one of sticks, one of bricks and one of straw.
“The second week, we had critical thinking. “Science on the Road” came from Science Center and they had, we did two projects with them with building.
“The third week, we had “How Nature Builds A Home Habitat”. Jennings Environmental Learning Center from Butler came and she compared the homes that the animals make to the homes that people make. And, we also made a bird’s nest.
“And the last week, we just had “Magic in the Making” by Steve Haberman and the students heard a program again based on building on a new world. And, we also had the Kathleen Rayborn on butterflies that are endangered.”
Rayborn is a Penn Hills landscaper who is active in environmental education.
“I’ve been interested in butterflies for about 20 years,” Rayborn said. “And, I started the monarch and milk weed project in the community of Penn Hills 3 years ago. So, I am very passionate about trying to save the monarchs. The monarchs are, could possibly go extinct. They may be put on the endangered species list. And, the main reason is that there’s not enough food for them to eat. The only plant the monarch caterpillar eats is milk weed. And, people just don’t have, grow milk weed in their yards. And, all the milk weed that grows in nature has been bulldozed because we keep building houses and shopping centers so, there’s not enough food for the monarchs to it. So, it’s really important that everybody plants native plants in their yard which includes milk weed and all the other native plans cause all of our insects and birds, they all need these native plants. So, we don’t want to go to the store and buy petunias. We want to go to the store, plant store and buy milk weed and other native plants.”
Steve Haberman owns 13th Hour Entertainment and will make appearances at over 50 schools this summer with his specialized magic show.
“During the school year, I work at schools doing a Magic of Science Show. So, I do educational shows for the school and then all summer I do the summer reading programs,” he said.
Moore said the entire summer reading program cost less than $2,500 to operate and is funded through the PTO fundraisers.
“The school district has not been funding the program because we don’t have funding, so to keep it going and when I have the PTO, I’m so thrilled to have the backing for this. If they didn’t give me any money, I’d find out somewhere.”
West Hills Teacher Paul Tracey joins Moore in addition to parent volunteers. Moore said that an all-volunteer team keeps costs low and enables them to maximize the project. Students are given books, and other reading materials. The PTO also pays for a bus to take the students on a field trip this Thursday to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
As she turns 69 later this month, Moore has no plans on stopping now.
“I have been a member of PTO for 39 years since my son who’s 44 went here. So, I’ve never not been a member. I help in any way I can. They were so good to me when I worked here. Anything I wanted or needed for reading, the PTO funded it. So, I’m just feel like I’m paying back the generosity they gave me with my time and talent,” Moore said.