OLATHE, Kan. — Walking through the halls of Olathe East High School, there’s a classroom dedicated to future educators called the 21st Century Future Educators Academy.
“We’re in charge of recruiting and teaching teachers,” 21st Century Future Academy Facilitator Shelley Staples said.
It’s a program freshman Ally Baier wanted to be a part of for some time.
“I love school and I love getting educated and it’s fun helping kids,” Baier said.
This year, there’s something new added to the program. They’re teaming up with Children’s Mercy Hospital for “The Ally Project,” an opportunity for Olathe East students to teach kids who are sick at the hospital.
“We’ll be using computer monitors and they’ll get a device and then they’ll Facetime or G-chat to children in the hospital,” Staples said.
The high schoolers said it’s more than teaching that draws them to the program.
“I just want them to know that someone’s there for them, especially in education,” sophomore Morgan Spoor said.
“It’s not only like reading a story to them, it’s being a friend to them,” junior Michelle Chacon said.
“They’re going through the worst points of their lives and they deserve to find some joy,” sophomore Karinne Howell said.
“Maybe it’s that one part of their day where they’ve been doing treatments all day, and it’s the one part of their day where they can just relax,” sophomore Kayla Jones said.
The project is named after Ally Baier.
“I had to miss almost two weeks of my 7th-grade year because of a brain tumor and brain cancer,” Baier said. “I was scared I was going to die. I was actually going to die.”
But now, one year later, off treatments, Ally hopes to be an ally for kids who are going through what she did.
“It’ll give them a chance to be educated no matter how sick they are and it feels good to know people are still being educated even if they’re in the hospital,” Baier said.
Baier’s mom Crysta, said this new project will benefit students in the hospital and their families.
“I think if you can take the school part off of the plate and know that your child has help through teenage mentors, I think it’s a piece of the puzzle to make life a little easier for the whole family,” Crysta Baier said.
Students have one more training to complete on the project, with hopes to start at the beginning of the year.