Navy sailors help Chesapeake teachers set up classrooms

Back to School

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Classrooms throughout Chesapeake were filled with people on Wednesday morning, but none of them were students.

Instead, more than 400 military members paced the halls with paint and decorations.

10 On Your Side caught up with them at Butts Road Primary School. Military men and women were there as part of the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Hampton Roads “Servicing Our Schools” initiative to help teachers set up their classrooms.

“They work with the teachers to prepare their classrooms for the new school year so they can focus on teaching our kids and not necessarily the ancillary jobs of cutting out letters and numbers,” said Capt. Matthew Frauenzimmer, commanding officer of NSA Hampton Roads. “It allows our kids to get back into school and teach them other great skills so they can be the future leaders of our nation and our Navy.”

On Monday and Wednesday, service members took time to visit 25 elementary, middle, and high schools in Chesapeake.

Many of them were parents whose own children went to school in the area. Several of the sailors said it felt good to give back to the teachers, who often step up when parents are deployed.

One of those school staff members stepping up is Holly Cancel, Butts Road Primary’s counselor.

As a military spouse herself, she says helping her school gain “Purple Star” accreditation was a personal goal.

She knows all too well what it takes for them to come out and volunteer their off time.

“I’m so thankful that they’re taking their time because they already do so much serving our country,” said Cancel. “And here they are serving again.”

Initiative leaders say the effort allows teachers to focus on other responsibilities related to planning, developing, and organizing student instruction.

Some of the tasks included preparing bulletin boards, sorting books for the student book baskets, distributing textbooks, assembling student furniture, cutting out letters, organizing books for classroom libraries, and arranging furniture within classrooms.

“It is an honor for our military members to give back to the local schools and show support to the teachers during this fantastic initiative,” said Frauenzimmer. “We have a great partnership with the local community and strive to continue to collaborate and sustain those relationships through service.”

Frauenzimmer points out that not only was today a volunteered effort but joining the military, in general, is based on volunteerism. He believes serving here on the homefront isn’t an added part of the oath made when you join, but is instilled in their service as a whole.

“When we raise our right hand and say we’ll support the constitution… this is really that manifestation if you will and we’re supporting the constitution, the teachings of what makes America free,” he said.

Stay with for more local news updates.

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