Graves Co. teacher turns common interest with students into 'Paw - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Graves Co. teacher turns common interest with students into 'Paws for a Cause'

Graves County Middle School students, from left, Emma Swift and Kristen Brinkley join their writing teacher, Jessica Holder, in promoting “Paws for a Cause.” (Source: Paul Schaumburg/Graves Co. Schools) Graves County Middle School students, from left, Emma Swift and Kristen Brinkley join their writing teacher, Jessica Holder, in promoting “Paws for a Cause.” (Source: Paul Schaumburg/Graves Co. Schools)
GRAVES COUNTY, KY (KFVS) -

In pursuing her college degree in education and now as a teacher early in her career at Graves County Middle School, Jessica Holder is familiar with the concept of “to give pause.”

The MacMillan Dictionary said it means “to make someone think carefully about something.”

Holder realizes grammar, syntax, and similar rules of writing are important to communicate clearly. She also knows common ground is important in connecting with others in teaching, writing, and virtually every other pursuit in life.

“I’m obsessed with animals and a lot of my kiddos are, too,” she explained. “They like to tell me stories about their pets because I like to tell them stories about mine.”

A quick poll of the class in front of her at the moment reveals the vast majority of those students also have pets.

So, when Holder and her students decided to create a project together, it made sense to focus on their pets.

“It is something we all have in common and we decided we wanted to do something that is bigger than just ourselves,” the teacher said, noting that, again, their interaction “gave them pause. “

“We wondered what we could do to help more than just us,” Holder continued. “So, we thought this is a good way to get the kids excited and engaged. It’s a chance for them to see that they can do something a lot bigger than just themselves. So, we call this project ‘Paws for a Cause.’”

“We’re raising money so the dogs and cats at the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter can stay there until they can find their forever homes,” said seventh grader Kristen Brinkley.

In fact, the entire seventh grade Blue Team, of approximately 150 students, is partnering to publicize and support the pets.

Since Holder teaches writing, “We made brochures to put out in the community to tell others about the animal shelter and what we’re doing,” said seventh grader, Emma Swift. “We also have made donation boxes, flyers, and posters to help spread the word.”

“I went to the shelter and made a video to show the students what it is like there,” Holder noted. “We made a little recording of what the shelter needs from us to help them. From that, the students got a glimpse of it – what it looks like, the kind of animals they have there and so forth.”

Not only have the students sought donations from the other seventh grade team and both eighth grade teams, but they also hope an upcoming event will bring donations from others who care.

“Our fall festival runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 27th,” Holder pointed out. “We hope to get more donations from the parents and families who attend and after fall festival, we’ll continue to accept contributions for one more week – until Nov. 3rd.”

The class is so intent on making a difference that they arranged to change the name of the fall festival to the “Paw Festival,” as noted on flyers throughout the school.

The Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter, 500 No. 12th St. in Mayfield, is also a good place to make a donation in care of the “Paws for a Cause” project. It’s open between noon and 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as well as from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Its telephone number is 270-251-0130.

The Graves County Middle School teacher and her students say the project has made them think beyond themselves and they hope it inspires others in the community to do the same. After all, in this case, to give pause is to give not only thought, but action to help to innocent animals who just want a home… In other words, “Paws for a Cause.”

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