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Transforming a School—In One Day

Written by Mike Thee
August 18, 2014

When students return to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School next month, they will be greeted by a significantly improved school. 

That's because a small army of administrative and financial officers from colleges and universities across the country rolled up their sleeves to give the school a substantial makeover last month. More than 80 members of the national organization NACUBO painted the school's cafeteria, multiple classrooms and hallways; re-striped the lines for playground games such as four-square and kickball; and tended to the grounds. 

Representing more than 2,200 colleges and universities, NACUBO-the National Association of College and University Business Officers-helps institutions strengthen their economic viability, improve their business practices and fulfill their missions. It is the association's custom to schedule a day of service somewhere in the host city during their annual conference. 

So NACUBO reached out to SU's Finance and Business Affairs office for a recommendation on where their volunteers might serve, and Bailey Gatzert, the university's principal partner in the Seattle University Youth Initiative  (SUYI), was quickly identified as the logical site. 

NACUBO raised money for the supplies that the volunteers used during service day and also provided funding for other items such as new furniture, flat-screen televisions and a particularly needed state-of-the-art projector, says Genevieve Venable, communication and outreach administrative coordinator in the Center for Service and Community Engagement. 

Yet perhaps the most notable donation, Venable says, are the new flags now hanging from the cafeteria that represent the many countries from which Gatzert's students hail. 

Leading up to the effort, the university's Facilities and Center for Service and Community Engagement staff spent a day doing prep work to ensure that the NACUBO volunteers could make the most of their time at Gatzert. A number of SU staff also participated in the day of service itself. 

"The NACUBO day of service provided a wonderful opportunity for SU, Gatzert School and business officers from throughout the United States to significantly enhance the physical structure of Gatzert School," said Kent Koth, director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement and Youth Initiative. "Physical space impacts student learning.  Gatzert students and teachers will appreciate the improved learning environment. Big thanks to staff from Facilities, the Business Office and the Controller's Office for stepping up to assist with this project."