2006-09-29 / Front Page

Teacher Honored With Makeover For Self And School

By Patricia Hannan

Brian O'Connell, Principal of The Region 5 Scholars Academy, joins volunteers from Jones New York and The Home Depot during the daylong restoration project.Brian O'Connell, Principal of The Region 5 Scholars Academy, joins volunteers from Jones New York and The Home Depot during the daylong restoration project.

A Rockaway public school teacher was treated to a makeover and more than 400 volunteers spruced up her school Wednesday as part of a nationwide contest to honor and transform the lives of inspiring teachers who make a difference in students' lives.

Ann Marie Todes, a 6th grade teacher at the Region 5 Scholars' Academy at JHS 180, was one of five teachers honored in the 2006 Jones New York In The Classroom "Back to School, Back to Style" contest, in which the winners receive a complete transformation for themselves and their schools: a personal wardrobe from Jones New York and a school makeover from the Hands On Network and The Home Depot.

"There is no teacher more deserving of this honor than Ms. Todes; she goes above and beyond her call of duty on a daily basis," Principal Brian O'Connell told The Wave. He recalled how Todes would take her students to the pizzeria after school or spend her weekends planning a class trip to a museum in Manhattan. "It's not uncommon for pt students, even adults, to come back looking for her," he added.

A volunteer stands ready to transform the landscape of JHS180.A volunteer stands ready to transform the landscape of JHS180. So while Todes spent the morning receiving her makeover at Macy's Herald Square, volunteers worked inside classrooms, teachers' lounges, and hallways, and on the outside perimeters and playgrounds. They repainted walls, faded murals and fences; they landscaped grounds and restored basketball courts.

Todes was nominated for consideration in a 100-word online essay submitted by O'Connell, noting how Todes demonstrates both her exceptional love of teaching and children everyday.

"A Manhattan resident, Todes has been commuting via public transportation to Rockaway for over 19 years. This is no easy feat since this trip [requires] two buses and a train, lasting over two hours on average," O'Connell explained. He told The Wave that the changes being made are not only timely for Todes and the school, but also for the entire community. They're reflective of the parents' acknowledgement and appreciation of Todes' work and dedication to influencing the lives of their children, he said.

The Home Depot sent volunteers to repaint the deteriorating school grounds.The Home Depot sent volunteers to repaint the deteriorating school grounds. The Jones New York In The Classroom "Back to School, Back to Style" contest is part of the Hands On Network's second annual Corporate Month of Service, a campaign seeking out thousands of corporate volunteers to lead and participate in nationwide service projects. During the month of September, 40,000 volunteers came together for various projects, addressing the needs of communities. The Home Deport, Hands On affiliate New York Cares and Jones New York In The Classroom collaborated on the project to transform Todes and JHS 180.

"When I told the kids this morning that this work was being done because of Ms. Todes, they gave her a standing ovation," O'Connell noted. "Her service is unsurpassed."

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