Darla Schneider – Volunteer Coordinator
While countless positive things take place inside of our schools throughout the year, oftentimes, the outside of our buildings fall victim to Michigan’s harsh seasons and updated landscaping may not be at the forefront of our minds as we focus on educating our youth. Thankfully, our Volunteer Coordinator, Darla Schneider, took notice several years ago that the outside of our schools should represent and reflect all of the good things taking place inside. Darla saw the need to beautify and simplify our landscaping and thus began her summer volunteer project.
Darla works tirelessly throughout the year coordinating student volunteers throughout the community and this ongoing landscaping project provided a new opportunity for students and Niles residents alike to get involved. Inspired by countless student pick-ups at Ballard with overgrown shrubs obstructing traffic views, Darla approached the principal about her idea to beautify school properties. Getting the necessary approval was easy. Lewis Evans, the Operations and Facilities Director remarked, “We were already making plans to allocate resources for change to the exterior of buildings, and with Darla’s passionate plea, we were excited to fast track the work with her help.”
Once approved, donations started pouring in. Whether it was donating boulders, rocks and towing services or lending a bulldozer, the community was eager to help. Once positive change was seen at Ballard, other schools wanted to get involved and Darla was more than happy to lead efforts.
To date, Darla and her team of volunteers have given facelifts to Ballard, Ring Lardner, Oak Manor, Howard-Ellis and most recently, Niles High School. Throughout the summer, Darla spent three to four hours watering plants at the schools, while shoveling, pulling bushes and weeding on the weekends. As tirelessly as Darla works with her hands, she has also worked with local landscaping companies to secure additional donated materials towards these efforts.
“Darla and the various volunteers we are fortunate to have support our district have worked hard to create an appealing and inviting landscape for our schools,” said Dr. Dan Applegate, Superintendent of Niles Community Schools. “Their contributions are crucial to the ongoing success of our district by providing critical support at activities throughout the year, while also allowing us to achieve cost savings that can be allocated to essential programs. Niles Community Schools appreciates the efforts and donations of everyone committed to the children of our community.”
The district thanks Darla for her hard work and dedication to our community and to our students’ future success. Go Vikings!