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Ossining Schools Teach 'Pay It Forward' Concept With Quilt As Example

Dr. Corey W. Reynolds, principal of the Roosevelt Elementary School in Ossining, sets fifth-graders a task -- find some way to help their neighbors, town, village ... or the world. Photo Credit: Provided
Teachers from the Roosevelt and Claremont elementary schools designed and made a quilt for teacher William Casey, a school baseball coach and Yankees fan who is battling cancer. Photo Credit: Provided

OSSINING, N.Y. --  Ossining principal Corey W. Reynolds challenged students at the Roosevelt Elementary during a recent assembly to start thinking about something they could do to help their neighbors, town, village … or the world.

Setting the fifth-graders the task as part of the district’s Capstone Project, Reynolds said this year's theme is “Pay It Forward.”

“Paying it forward means to do something nice for someone without wanting to be rewarded for it, without wanting to be paid for it, without wanting to be acknowledged for it, and in the hopes that your kind action will help someone else to do a kind action for someone else in the future,” he told students.

Teachers provided students with a fine example of the concept when they unveiled a handmade quilt they had created for one of their colleagues.

Some of the messages on the panels included: “Keep calm and fight on,” “We always have your back.” and “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up,” a famous Babe Ruth quote.

They had kept the project quiet and surprised fifth-grade teacher William Casey with their gift.

Casey -- a middle school and high school baseball coach and Yankees fan – was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014. He had major surgery over the summer and returned to work this fall.

“I’ve been blessed with a great family and extended family,” he said after receiving the quilt. “They’ve been unbelievable at all the schools. There are so many people who have reached out to me.”

This is the second year of the project, which serves as a “capstone” to students’ studies and requires them to apply skills they have acquired in technology, research, reading, writing, speaking and presentation.

It was piloted last year in a few fifth-grade classes, and all eighth-graders completed the project. It is a four-year initiative at Ossining High School and this year’s freshman class is the first to participate. Roosevelt School teachers will be giving out rubber bracelets when they see someone perform a random act of kindness, Reynolds said.

He gave the very first one to teacher Julia Karam, who came up with the idea of making a quilt for Casey.

Teachers at Roosevelt and the Claremont Elementary Schools designed panels for a quilt, and she sewed them together.

Karam said that if anyone deserves a random act of kindness, it is Casey, who, she said, has remained strong and positive during his battle with cancer.

He has also found time to be kind, caring and supportive of others, Karam said.

“We hope this quilt serves as a reminder that you are respected, admired and loved by all of us here in Ossining,” she said.

Casey, who is married and who has 3-year-old twins, said he was touched by his colleagues’ act of kindness.

He said his goals are to always be a better person and friend and have a better outlook on life.

“No one’s taking me down, but it certainly helps to have all the support,” Casey said. 

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