Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most. 

Here are two stories of teachers committed to servicing their community inside and outside the classroom:

Palmer Keeps the Music Alive by Around Acworth Magazine. Jim Palmer always had a passion and knack for music and teaching. His early teaching jobs, alongside his volunteer work with a youth orchestra, led him to become the orchestra director for Allatoona High School in 2008. Students and alumni of Allatoona High School credit Palmer for “mentoring them and keeping their love of music alive.” One student, Garret Wilson, earned enough credit to graduate early but opted to stay and take a few more classes with the beloved orchestra teacher. “He’s an amazing teacher, and I want to be able to learn as much about what he does, how he does it, and how he thinks because that’s the dedication I want to have whenever I grow up,” Wilson said. Palmer not only helped Garret improve his violin skills but also mentored him on his college decision and classes to help further his academic career in music. Saying goodbye to his seniors is always bitter-sweet for Palmer, but he always looks forward to the new ninth-graders coming in. “My two favorite days are when they first walk into the orchestra room as a ninth-grader because their potential is limitless. The other favorite day is when they walk across the stage at graduation. That’s a great day because when they walk across the stage, I think that person is now equipped to love music for the rest of their life,” he said. 

Union County group provides beds for children by Cheyenne Roche. East Union High School math teacher John Walsh had one thing on his mind while quarantining for two weeks in 2021—the hardships many Americans were facing due to the pandemic, and particularly how his students were affected. That’s when Walsh came across a video series of a project on Facebook called “Returning the Favor,” featuring “individuals giving back to their communities through hard work and selflessness,” which inspired him to help those who had fallen on hardships in his community by building beds. “I thought, I’ve got kids in my classes sleeping on the floor…I could do this,” Walsh said. After talking with his colleagues, they started a Union County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace– “a nationwide organization of volunteers dedicated to building, assembling, and delivering top-notch beds to children and families in need.” The chapter started in March 2021. Since then, they’ve gathered more than 100 volunteers, and as of June 1, the chapter has delivered 27 beds within the county. Union County has seen a lot of success in its mission, “the whole thing has been a group effort,” Walsh said. His favorite part of the job is “the joy and excitement of the kid seeing their bed for the first time is the best part. They just can’t wait to get in the bed and try it out,” he said.

Be sure to check back the week after next for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!