Current and future Aggies pull together to help a first-year teacher in need

Sarah Daniels, Connie Fournier and Melissa Trice helped to collect books to send to Erica Kaskow's elementary class at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: April 26, 2010

Erica Kaskow '08 discovered that when Aggies lend a hand to fellow Aggies, they help in a big way.

She and her husband, First Lieutenant Andrew Kaskow, had recently been stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Erica, who earned her bachelor's degree in special education in 2008, was serving as the resource teacher for kindergarten through fifth-grade students with disabilities. However, the school did not have special education support materials, including much-needed children's books, so Erica set out to gather what she could for her classroom.

"When I was at Texas A&M University, I helped gather data on children's reading ability for two grant projects. One of the projects required the children to have books to read, and at the end of the school year, we would have a few of those books left over," she says.

Hoping for any leftover books, Erica contacted the department of Educational Psychology about her dilemma, and word soon spread that a fellow Aggie needed some extra help. Kristie Stramaski, senior academic advisor and member of the college's Staff Advisory Council, put together a college-wide book drive with other members of the council. She even persuaded Half Price Books in College Station to donate. Some of Erica's former professors and classmates joined in to help.

Special education clinical professor Connie Fournier challenged her students to get involved. "I suggested this would be a nice project because we could help a former Aggie, her special education students, and the children of servicemen and women," Connie says. 

One of Connie's students, Melissa Trice '11, now a senior special education major, told her son, William, about the class's efforts to gather books. "We wanted to do something for the soldiers' families," William says. "They do so much for us by going overseas and keeping the United States safe. If they are in need of books and school supplies, then we should do what we can to help!" 

Now a sixth-grader at Iola Elementary School, William not only donated some of his own books, but he also started a companion book drive at his school.

"William's book drive went great. We received tons of books and a lot of school supplies from Century 21 Real Estate in Bryan," Melissa says. Once the books and supplies were gathered, the volunteers coordinated packing and mailing them to North Carolina. Box after box arrived on Erica's doorstep. 

"Texas A&M is an amazing place - everyone knows that - but in times of need, Aggies can really pull together," Erica says. "I expected to get about five books, but I got almost 700!"