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Thanks to Teachers: Elizabeth Reis

Elizabeth Reis pushed through some 200 hours of paperwork, research and meeting with community members. She was awarded the $15,000 grant for a state-of-the-art playground. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

In the middle of Jonathan Valley Elementary School in Waynesville is a large courtyard. It is space for the younger students to play, but not much more.

"We've always said, 'We need to do something about the courtyard. We need to do something about the courtyard,' " says Jonathan Valley's principal Heather Hollingsworth. "But we've never had anybody who wanted to step up to the plate and take on a grant like Elizabeth has done."

Pre-K teacher Elizabeth Reis thought adding a playground to the courtyard would be a good idea.

"Teachers know how important it is for a child to get out energy and come back to their work feeling focused and refreshed," says Reis. "So I thought to myself, why don't I do a little research and see if I can find a company that values play like early childhood educators do?"

Reis applied for a "Let's Play" construction grant through Dr. Pepper, Snapple and Kaboom. But she quickly found out grant writing is not easy.

"It was a part-time job," says Reis.

But the teacher pushed through some 200 hours of paperwork, research and meeting with community members. She was awarded the $15,000 grant for a state-of-the-art playground.

The Jonathan Valley community contributed $21,000 to the playground, which will be built by the community.

"I'm really proud and honored to be part of this community that just really worked so hard together to get this done for our kids." says Reis.

"It is amazing to have people like I have," says Hollingsworth, "especially someone like Elizabeth who is just willing to not give up."

Construction on the new playground is scheduled to begin in May.


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