'Portable Fairy' lifts spirits at Aspen

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Construction > Educators adjust to temporary classrooms

By Tris DeRoma

No doubt, moving can be a stressful and frustrating experience; especially when you’re responsible for making the experience run as smoothly as possible for hundreds of school children. That was the situation faced by the staff of Aspen Elementary School at the beginning of the school year as construction began on their new school.

But, such an experience can be laced with a bit of magic as well, as Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom and her staff soon found out. Shortly after they settled into their portable classrooms for the year, little gifts started showing up in the staff mailboxes. Nothing expensive or too elaborate, just little knick- knacks designed to make everyone who received one feel that everything was going to be OK, that they were going to pull through the experience.

According to Vandenkieboom, the gifts have been showing up since October, and no one knows who’s dropping them off. Apparently, the “Portable (classroom) Fairy” as she or he is now known as is a closely guarded secret.

Vandenkieboom said there is at least one person who knows the Portable Fairy’s identity, but Vandenkieboom said that person refuses to spoil the magic by revealing who it is.

There just wouldn’t be any fun in that. The gifts are pretty clever, and mixed with a little humor. They’ve included palm-sized construction cones made out of stress-relieving, squeezable, foam, stickers, and little tablespoon-sized jars of honey. Most of the time they also come with little messages designed to brighten the gift recipient’s day.

“The work zone cones had a little message on them that said ‘squeeze out your stress, good luck as we move —The Portable Fairy,’” Vandenkieboom said.

The jars of honey came with a message that read: “Sometimes your kind words may be the sweetest thing a child hears all day Stay Sweet—The Portable Fairy.”

This week, the staff received little pads of sticky notes to help keep track of all the special dates and reminders of the holiday season.

Vandenkieboom said the gifts have been pretty good morale boosters as teachers and staff do their best to keep things as normal as possible.

“It has, and I think the mystery of who would care to be nice like that is very endearing,” Vandenkieboom said. “I want to know who this person is, but then again, I don’t.”

As far as the move itself, Vandenkieboom said everyone feels like they’ve settled in and the portable classrooms look like classrooms on the inside.\“I feel like the adjustment to our new digs has finally finished,” she said. “We are really here and the teachers have done a lot to make the classrooms look homey.”