Making a difference

BROWNSTOWN

Shortly after entering a classroom at Brownstown Elementary School, Devin Stuckwisch and Lance Goecker each paired up with a student.

Stuckwisch helped a boy with a worksheet. He later sat next to another boy and helped him complete several worksheets before going to another part of the classroom to read a book together.

Goecker, meanwhile, pulled out a learning kit and helped a girl learn words and symbols.

For the past month, the two Brownstown Central High School juniors have visited Lindsey Goshorn’s class for an hour once a week. They will continue doing that for a couple more weeks.

Stuckwisch and Goecker are working with the special needs students as part of their Google 20 Time project for Melanie Preston’s Advanced Placement language arts class.

They are not only helping themselves since they are considering careers involving working with kids, but they are helping others by raising money to purchase a couple of learning kits for Goshorn’s class.

Stuckwisch said their project has been an eye-opening experience.

“I’ve not really experienced something like this, and I don’t think I’ve heard of any other schools in this area that do something like this that allows you to open up and be who you really want to be,” he said.

“This is a really cool, interesting way to get out in the community as well as being yourself,” he said. “This is something you want to do, and nobody else is pushing you to do this. This is you truly, so I think this is a great way for us to be who we want to be for once and do what we love to do.”

Goecker said it has had a positive impact on him, too.

“It’s a really good project, and I recommend it for other schools, too, to just reach out there and help other students,” he said.

Stuckwisch said he and Goecker have been good friends for a while, and they both like working with kids and having fun with them, so coming together for this project made sense.

“I’m looking into a career in occupational therapy, so I thought this would be a great way for me to kind of get hands-on and see if this is really what I want to look forward to in the future,” Stuckwisch said.

Working with the kids has drawn him toward pediatric occupational therapy, he said.

“Making them happy and seeing what me and (Goecker) can do together really kind of makes me like that a whole lot better,” Stuckwisch said.

Goecker said he wants to go into education or business.

“I was really interested in helping the kids and just being a role model with them,” he said. “I just like how they are so fun to be with, and me and Devin, we like to have fun and just be role models with them.”

Through the cadet teacher program at the high school, Goshorn said she has had high-schoolers helping in her classroom in the past. They’ve typically been students who want to pursue a career in education.

Goshorn also has had high school students accompany her students for a special track and field event at Bedford in the spring.

“Any time we’ve had helpers, the kids just absolutely love it,” she said. “I think it’s a learning experience for them, as well.”

When Stuckwisch and Goecker visit, Goshorn has them go around the classroom and help any student that needs assistance with classroom work. That way, they get to know all of the kids.

“They’ve been really great about just jumping in if I say, ‘Oh, help her’ or ‘Help him’ and not really having to be told what to do,” Goshorn said.

She said it’s nice having Stuckwisch and Goecker in the classroom because her class mainly consists of boys.

“I think for the boys, it’s exciting for them to have boys to look up to and see that boys can be teachers and help them,” Goshorn said.

Initially, Stuckwisch and Goecker wanted to just work with the elementary students. But as their project progressed, they had to make it public, so they emailed Goshorn about raising money for something she needed.

That’s where the learning kits came into play.

“With some of the older kids and the higher functioning students that do the regular classroom curriculum, we stay really busy,” Goshorn said. “But some of the others that are lower functioning, we do more life skills type of things and academic readiness. It’s hard to keep and find materials that keep them busy, that are new and that are going to benefit them down the road rather than just always learning letters and numbers.”

Each kit costs about $550, and Stuckwisch and Goecker hope to raise enough money to buy two.

They recently set up a GoFundMe page online and also are accepting cash donations. Within the first day, they raised $120.

“We’re just looking forward to getting those and helping (with) them,” Stuckwisch said of the learning kits. “It’s just a matter of getting these kids the good education that they need.”

Goshorn said she appreciates the work Stuckwisch and Goecker are doing.

“I’m just excited about it and the attention that it’s bringing to what we’re doing here just in general in the classroom,” she said.

The two juniors said they hope it makes a difference for Goshorn’s students.

“When we first came in here the first day, they are kind of scared, they don’t really know what these people are doing in here,” Stuckwisch said. “As we’ve been coming along, they know us by name, and we’re getting to talk to them, and they feel comfortable working with us, so we can take one off and take them one-on-one and talk to them, and they have no fear.”

Stuckwisch and Goecker said they have gotten a lot out of the project so far, and they are only halfway through it.

“I just feel like they do look up to us, and as athletes, as students, we have to help little kids and just show them the role models we can be,” Goecker said.

“I hope to just feel satisfied that I did something to help these kids,” Stuckwisch said. “I think that’s a great way to just make them feel important. Especially in a small community like this, I like that high school athletes or just high-schoolers in general have a strong impact on helping kids. They really look up to us, and they think that’s really cool, so I hope that they take something away from this, as well, and realize they have something very special here.”

On the Web

To donate to Devin Stuckwisch and Lance Goecker’s project, visit gofundme.com/qz3na9u4.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.