Eagle Scout project could pay reading dividends for Willmar students
WILLMAR -- When classes start at Lincoln Learning Center next fall, students will find a new bench waiting in each classroom. The kid-sized benches will be just the right size for a student to sit beside an adult and read a book. "It may not be c...
WILLMAR -- When classes start at Lincoln Learning Center next fall, students will find a new bench waiting in each classroom.
The kid-sized benches will be just the right size for a student to sit beside an adult and read a book.
"It may not be comfortable for the teacher, but that's not what it's all about," said Nate Tusa, the Willmar Boy Scout who is building the 15 benches with his friends.
"What they're meant to do is seat a student and teacher," he said. "The teacher is to read to the student and give them a more in-depth look at what reading is all about."
Volunteers who come to the school to read to students will also use the benches to help students with their reading.
Tusa organized the bench-building project to earn his Eagle Scout rank.
When he was looking for an Eagle Scout project, he talked to Willmar Superintendent Kathy Leedom.
They got to know each other when he was a summer employee of the school district.
Leedom promised to check with the principals and called back a few days later with an idea from Lincoln Principal Beckie Simenson.
Some people from the district had visited a school in Duluth that had reading benches in the classrooms, and the staff believed it helped students with their reading. "They read there with an in-school reading buddy or with community volunteers," Simenson said, and she thought it might work well in Willmar.
Tusa presented his idea to Lincoln's site council, and the group agreed to fund the project with money received from Box Tops for Education and from Target.
After receiving an OK to spend $250 on the project, Tusa went to Menards to get his supplies. He was surprised, he said, when he went to check out and the total came to $250 to the penny.
The benches will be delivered unfinished, at the request of the school. Simenson said each classroom will be able to turn its bench into an art project next year.
The project has been a lot of work, but he understands that it should be, Tusa said. He has been working toward the Eagle Scout rank for 10 years.
The scout needs to spend 40 hours of preparation time on the project before work can actually begin. Tusa said he thinks he's spent about 150 hours on the project so far, all on his own time, and expects to deliver the benches to the school this summer.
About a dozen friends have worked with him to build the benches. That's also part of the plan, to have the scout show leadership by being in charge of the overall project. "I'm the overseer," Tusa said. "I hold all the responsibility. ... They want to see if you can handle or maintain something like that."
Tusa said his dad Jim has been his "second man" in working on the project, and he credits his mom Lori for "pushing me" to get the project done. She has also helped out by bringing refreshments to the crew working in her garage.
The scout leaders who have worked with him over the years deserve credit for helping him learn responsibility, leadership and time management skills, Tusa said.
"They taught me to be a natural leader," he added. "They taught me to be more grown up at a faster rate than other people."
In addition to his involvement with Boy Scouts, he is involved in his church and does volunteer work. His school activities include band, choir, musicals and Business Professionals of America. He works as a DJ in his spare time and is a member of the local band JAMN. He enjoys making movies and hopes to work in the motion picture industry someday.