Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy
Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy

FALA Volunteer Corps

Classroom Connections | The Saga Continues

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to write this update to Classroom Connections.  It seems that ALL of the TEAMS of the Volunteer Corps have jumped into full swing, and I’ve been having trouble keeping up.  They are all doing great things around the school and so the time for writing has been pulled away from me until now.

Joe-Bodin-headshotI’ve continued to come on down to the school every Thursday afternoon and, each time that I do, I come away feeling so energized by the people I talk to that I don’t know if I can describe it.  I’m going to try, but I’d like everyone who reads this to consider that being one of our volunteers puts you right there in the thick of things.  We have parents, alumni, students, and community volunteers all showing up at the school every week.  And, these people are feeling the same energy that I have been.  Believe me, when my Inbox is entirely full of volunteer emails, I can tell you that FALA energizes people!

I hope you enjoy this edition of Classroom Connection!

Smiles, Joe Bodin (Volunteer Corps President)

PS  We have our Family Mixer coming up on next Tuesday!  You are all invited…  Click here for more.

Our Students are Getting Rich

It’s not easy to nail down Rich Krueger (one of our Science Teachers).  He’s always running around campus doing something with the kids.  To be honest, I get the feeling that he likes talking to kids more than adults.  Every time I see the students with him they are bubbling over with enthusiasm.  He seems to let it all loose when he’s having fun with his students.  I’ve watched him from afar and I can tell you that he loves FALA and the kids love him.

Rich KruegerIt took me about three weeks to catch up to him…  Every time I saw him, he was running to something else he was doing with his students.  As most of you probably know, he’s the Teacher who helps with the Robotics Team (Infalables Llamas).  If ever there was a more motivated team… they have won awards at state level competition due to his leadership. Not bad for a small school!  He clearly instills drive and passion in them.

You might know that he also teaches Astronomy and periodically holds viewing nights for the kids to look through telescopes and learn about the stars and celestial bodies.  On a more personal note, it was Rich who inspired my Daughter (Cassie) to go on to being a Physics & Astronomy Major at the UofA this year.  He helped her dream and see into the universe.

Beyond all of this, I’ve heard from both students and teachers alike that he’s always doing something fun.  He showed up during Registration Days this past summer, set up his barbecue, and made hot dogs for everyone.  It seems to be a passion of his to be involved with students – a true kid person!

The Robotics Team Needs Your Box Tops


Taking out the Trash

After talking with Rich for a while, I asked him – “So, what do you think FALA needs?”  His response – “Garbage Cans…!”

This then led us into a big discussion about how the current gray garbage cans blow over and spread trash all over campus on a regular basis.  He described his idea of having a “garbage caddy” where the cans would sit inside a wood or plastic frame.  He then said that he wanted them to also have “recycle cans” all over campus because there is only one recycling can that the kids have access to.

As I was talking with him, Vrendi Will energetically poked her nose outside her classroom and said, “I’d like to have Compost receptacles with that too!”  And then Rich led me all over campus pointing out where the best spots would be to set these up.Beautification Team

What I can tell you about this conversation is that our Beautification Team has a project lined up all because of Rich and Vrendi’s inspiration!

3D Printing Around Flagstaff

One of the things that I brought to him was information about all the “Maker Labs” that are springing up around Flagstaff.  

I’m in the computer field (as a Web Designer) and so I go to, or host, technical lectures.  I have learned that both NACET (up on the hill by Buffalo Park) and NAU (in the Cline Library), have been putting in 3D printers and scanners.  

Rich and I discussed the uses of it for his classes and teams, and he even pulled a couple of his robotics students out of the classroom to talk with me about it.  

What I’d like everyone to know is that Flagstaff has these resources and the majority of it is FREE to use.  I’m hoping that Rich can organize some field trips to these facilities to inspire his sciences students to use the latest CAD and 3D Printing Technology.

Here’s some links for you:

Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technolgy (NACET)

Northern Arizona University Cline Library MakerLab


If You Could Contain Fire, Then You’d Be Janeece Henes

Janeece HenesI think if Janeece Henes (one of our Art Teachers) could be any more on fire, then she’d burn down the entire city.  She is ALWAYS doing something good for the school.  She has her hands in practically everything and I find that each time I go to the school, I need to poke my head into her classroom to make sure I’m not missing something.  She is completely on FIRE for FALA!

It’s not worth writing much more because I can’t contain everything she is doing in words.  

Here it is in pictures… Click on the Banners for More Info




I’d also like to thank her for the Plate Event and Parking Lot Sale that have already happened!


Special Ed Following the Habits of Heart and Mind

I’ve come to realize that FALA has a dedicated crew of Special Ed staff and teachers.  I keep bumping into them…  I haven’t had a chance to get to know any of them really well, but I have talked with a few of them and so I thought I’d tell you what I’ve learned.


stephanie-birdwell-croppedStephanie Birdwell (our Special Ed Director) is truly a gem.  She embodies the school spirit in everything she does.  The first time I met her, she asked if I could try to get parent volunteers who might be Nurses to help with Vision Screenings.  Each time after that, I’ve seen her working hard to make things happen at the school.  I haven’t had the chance to actually sit down and talk with her yet (it’s on my to-do-list), but the last meeting I went to (the FALA Council) had me totally impressed with her.  She was all dressed up for Halloween and looked glowing and vivacious, while also bringing up hardcore topics for discussion.

dean-merrell-croppedDean Merrell (our Special Ed Coordinator) was in the tutoring room this past week when I went in to do something.  So, I took a few minutes to talk with him as well.  He’s an interesting guy.  Looking at him, you can tell he is very laid back with his long beard, dreds, and mellow way of speaking.  But, I can also tell he loves FALA.  He started telling me about National Junior Honors Society because he is their sponsor teacher.  He suggested that he’d probably be approaching the Volunteer Corps for some help with Chaperones for future NJHS events.  So, stay tuned for that…!

carol-hixsonCarol Hixson (one of our Special Ed Teachers) was sitting in the special ed room working at a computer when I went in to say “Hi” to her.  We started talking about parent involvement and how it’s great for parents to get to know the teachers.  She agreed and then right away said that her special ed kids don’t get in trouble very much.  She expressed to me that 95% of her students are self-managed and they embody good behavior because of the school philosophy.  She said, “…when students are met with love and understanding and acceptance, they don’t get in trouble…”  I could tell she treats her students as young adults and not children.

[I wish I had taken pictures of all them. These I found on the Internet.  I’ll update them soon!]

For the Love of Reading & Books

Julia GilmoreJulia Gilmore (our High School English Teacher) inspires me.  Each time I see her, she is working on another reading oriented project or is helping out at a meeting figuring out how to solve problems.  She is extremely dynamic.  I wrote a whole article about her in a previous Classroom Connection (Click Here), so this is an update brief on items from her classroom.

Looking for Shelving

If you have a bookshelf you can donate to the school,
please contact Julia Gilmore at jgilmore@flagarts.com



A Big Thank You to Bookmans

One of the areas Julia is striving to fill at FALA is a LIBRARY.  She has begun filling her classroom with books to encourage our students to read.  After talking with her, I found out that a large portion of those books were either given to the school for free or were substantially discounted by our favorite Flagstaff bookstore – Bookmans.  

The Volunteer Corps’ Communication Team decided this deserved recognition and so we had our graphics person (Carrie Butler) design up some labels/signs to put on the shelf in the classroom to Thank Bookmans.

[Click on the Bookmans Image to see a Larger Version of it.] 


If you have anything you wish to see on the next Classroom Connection, please call/text Joe Bodin at (928) 487-1224 or parents@falavolunteers.com to get your suggestions in…!


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