Building Teachable Moments

Sunshine House family donates time and materials for daughter’s preschool class building project

By Jennifer Brown

As Sunshine House teacher Becky Lemon was preparing for the lesson on “building” in the preschool curriculum, she knew exactly who to recruit for help.

Lantz Family BirdhouseAnd Luke and Beth Lantz, parents of Lily, 3, and Jason, 2, were up for the challenge. Luke owns his own construction company and works with Wilson Homes in Burlington, NC, and Beth, an IT professional with a knack for negotiating, volunteered to build a birdhouse for Lily’s class.

“Our children are our world, so when we get the opportunity to spend a few hours at school with them, teaching and helping them learn, it is easy for us to prioritize that time,” says Beth Lantz.

And, in his profession, her husband Luke has the opportunity to work with all different types of building materials, and is always on the lookout for rare wood. For the birdhouse, he chose Cypress, Western Red Cedar and a piece of 200-year-old Wormy Chestnut reclaimed from a North Carolina barn.

The finished product is more like a modular mansion, with three separate “wings” with special features. Luke even threw in a little geometry lesson for the class, adding a circle cutout on one side and a triangle on another.

What was the trickiest part about teaching a class of preschoolers how to hammer and mix cement?

“Well, it was sort of like herding cats,” says Beth. “They all wanted to be part of the mixing and hammering all at once!  Luke was the smart one. He thought to get three small hammers so we could let them use more than one hammer at a time.”

And, she admits, they relied heavily on teachers Ms. Becky and Ms. Betty Jackson, who handle a room full of 3-year-olds on a daily basis.

“We love The Sunshine House and the teachers there,” said Beth, who still remembers the first day she dropped Lily off at 5 months old. “We never mind donating time or materials.”

And since it was important to them that the children in the class have proper safety equipment, she convinced the manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Greensboro to donate 20 pair of safety goggles for the entire class!

Ms. Becky is especially excited about getting to keep the goggles for future class projects. Speaking of which, a giant birdfeeder would be nice…