Teacher, volunteer, community-builder: Celebrating Pam Schermerhorn on National Teachers’ Day

In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim National Teachers’ Day. On May 9, we celebrated National Teacher Day as a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.

On this particular National Teacher Day, we would like to highlight Pam Schermerhorn as both a standout teacher and valuable volunteer to Hoopfest.

Schermerhorn is a special education teacher for elementary and high school students in Sprague, Wash.

“I love helping kids learn things they didn’t think they could do,” says Schermerhorn. “My students work so hard every day and sometimes their accomplishments seem small to the outside world. But when you see them reach a goal, pass a test or even learn to do something independently, you know you have done something that matters.”

During the last week of June after schools out, and Hoopfest weekend is in, that’s when Schermerhorn puts on her volunteer cap.

One of the hats she wears during Hoopfest weekend is as a member of the Team Check-In Committee. Pam spends anywhere from 6-8 hours a day with her team for a few weeks rolling t-shirts and stuffing packets that will be handed out at Team Check-In.

“This all takes an incredible team of people working together to make any of this happen,” says Schermerhorn. “I wouldn’t do any of it without the staff and other committee members that make it fun.”

It all started when her family decided to volunteer for the first time 15 years ago, she recalls, when her now-20-year-old daughter was in kindergarten. Schermerhorn and her four kids have been a part of Hoopfest ever-since — including her youngest, who was a newborn during his first year. He’s been a Hoopfester every year of his life.

Nowadays, her kids work rolling and stuffing for Team Check-In, and also at Nike Center Court during the weekend.

What amazes her most about the weekend? Interacting with people from all walks of life.

“Every year it seems like there is some teenager whose mom has decided they need to ‘get out of the house’ and help,” she says. “So, mom will drop them off at packet stuffing for a shift or two. More than once that kid becomes ‘part of the family’ and we end up having them volunteer for the whole weekend with our team.”

Schermerhorn’s favorite part about Hoopfest is the community, especially seeing newcomers from out of town experience the calm before the storm on Saturday morning.

“We live on the South Hill, just minutes from downtown Spokane, and my kids and I walk down to the site at 6:30 a.m. for check-in,” she says. “It’s this magic time where you can feel the excitement and anticipation.”

For those wanting to go into teaching, or volunteer at Hoopfest, Schermerhorn has a message:

“Get involved,” she says. “Find something that enriches your life and the lives of others – even if it’s hard – and do it. Community is built by people who are willing to get involved. We want to live in a community where good things happen, so we have to be willing to make those things happen. You can’t sit back and wait to be invited or for someone else to tell you what to do or even do it for you.”

Thank you to Pam and her family for all their years of service and dedication to Hoopfest!

Want to get involved and make memories like the Schermerhorn family?

Sign up now to be a volunteer for Hoopfest 2017! 

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