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Mukilteo teachers build desks for students without at-home workspaces

The group first built 30 desks for high school students last fall and 20 more for kindergarteners in December. But the volunteers are not done yet.

MUKILTEO, Wash. — Dozens of students in the Mukilteo School District now have a new space just for their schoolwork, all thanks to a group of teachers.

The teachers decided to build school desks after hearing that some students did not have a desk or place to do their classwork while learning remotely during the pandemic.

After getting permission to build the desks in the school shop, the teachers found plans and how-to videos online that helped them quickly learn how to build the desks.

RELATED: Work continues to get students back into the classroom in Washington state

The group first built 30 desks for high school students last fall and even paid for the cost of the materials. In December, the group built 20 more desks for kindergarteners.

“We have families with a lot of need,” said Myola Shanholtzer, a CTE teacher at Kamiak High School. “So, I'd rather just be prepared and have spaces available for kids that needed them. Rather than find out that they've been, you know, working in a closet, which did happen, in some cases, six months down the road.”

But the volunteers are not done yet.

Last week, they put a call out to schools asking them to reach out to families who might need a desk.

Manufacturing technology teachers and paraeducators were the first group to volunteer their time. But when word got out about what was happening, a few others joined in, including some families that reached out wanting to do what they could to pitch in and help.

“One of the really amazing things was when I sent out a message to all the families in my classes saying if you need a space let me know, I did have several parents say, ‘I don’t need a space, but I have money and would like to help, so if you need coffee, or wood, or whatever you need just let me know,’” said Shanholtzer.

When it’s just one or two people working on the desks, Shanholtzer said it takes most of the day. But when there was a larger group of seven socially distanced working in the shop, they were able to build 20 desks in about three hours.

Credit: Courtesy Myola Shanholtzer
A group of teachers in Mukilteo built desks for students in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

“[Teachers] are just trying to do what they can with the materials they have and their resources,” said Shanholtzer. “It’s been a privilege to see all the things people are coming up with to try and help kids. We are part of a really good district and group of teachers, and I’m thankful for that.”