“Luckily, the Special Needs Department of (the) Talladega County (Board of Education) do see the need and I am thankful,” Hartsfield said Tuesday.
Hartsfield’s wish list included a larger classroom, a restroom for her students and a washer and dryer.
Hartsfield said she is always looking for innovative ways to incorporate daily activities into an opportunity to teach life skills and she sees the washer and dryer as a great opportunity.
The washer and dryer in Hartsfield’s class also excited varsity basketball coach Al Barnett.
Learning that Hartsfield’s classroom would be equipped with a washer and dryer, Barnett said he thought he would wash team uniforms at school and approached Hartsfield about using the washer and dryer.
Barnett said in the past it fell to him to make sure the team’s uniforms and towels were washed and ready for the next game, a chore he often did at home. He said he didn’t trust letting the players take uniforms and towels home to wash.
“I didn’t want them coming back pink,” he said.
When Barnett approached Hartsfield about the possibility of using the washer and dryer rather than clean team uniforms at home, Hartsfield said she realized what she described as “a wonderful” opportunity to teach life skills by having her class wash the uniforms and towels for the team.
Barnett has a basketball player take the uniforms, shooting shirts and towels to Hartsfield’s classroom, which also gives the team member an opportunity to interact with the students.
“Interacting with other students gives these kids an opportunity to be integrated with the general student population,” Barnett said.
Barnett also spends time interacting with the class. His wife, Jennifer Barnett, CHS’ Technology Integration specialist, said, “He comes to class and reads to them and watches ‘Barney’ with one student.”
Hartsfield said the students enjoy the activity and are eager to take their turn washing clothes. Two students are selected to separate the wash. They are taught how to size a load, select the right water temperature, and measure the detergent. “They do everything,” Hartsfield said.
“I can bring the wash in the morning and by lunch it will be ready,” Barnett said. “I told them not to worry with folding the practice uniforms, but Mrs. Hartsfield said to let them do it.”
Hartsfield said class members have different levels of ability and everyone in the class is given an opportunity to participate by folding the wash before they are taken back to Barnett.
“It is a great learning experience,” Hartsfield said. “It teaches responsibility and a good work ethic; things a boss would look for.”
Barnett said when the students bring the basket back to him, he thanks them and gets the class to give them applause.
Barnett has other ways in which he shows his appreciation.
On one occasion he had some of his students pop popcorn and take it to Hartsfield’s students. During pep rallies he recognizes them for their contribution to the team.
Barnett has also given the class special recognition by providing them with T-shirts with “Barnett’s Sudsy Buddies” printed on the front.
The team will play during school hours Jan. 29. Barnett said he plans to recognize Hartsfield’s students before the game. He will have them escorted by a team member. “We may even have a row of chairs sitting behind the team,” he said.
“We feel like an NBA team,” Barnett said.
“It has worked really great,” Hartsfield said. “Academics are important but developing life skills are more important.”
Contact Mark Ledbetter at email@example.com.