Locals 2012: Beth Wendler
June 29, 2012
Teachers in Steamboat Springs are wondering how Beth Wendler finds time to do so much good.
After she and her husband, Todd, moved to the Yampa Valley from Denver in 2004 to raise their three kids, Beth found solace volunteering in classrooms and giving teachers a helping hand. Her dedication to students quickly caught the attention of local educators.
"I couldn't imagine having a family and giving so much time outside of it to volunteer," Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher Jennifer Spurlock says about Beth. "Her effort and energy is impressive."
In 2009, Beth helped open a store in the atrium of the middle school that rewards students for good behavior with Nerf guns, jewelry, pizza and root beer floats.
"We have a whole bunch of stuff to reward students with," she says.
Beth also spearheaded the effort to have local businesses donate prizes to the store. When it's closed, the room is a dark space not much larger than an oversized closet. But when Beth gets behind the counter, the store is mobbed by crowds of kids anxious to cash in the tickets they earned for being good students. The store is part of the middle school's Positive Behavior System.
Sitting in the school's cafeteria in May, Beth predicts the store and its impact on students will only continue to grow next school year.
"This is not just a fun, neat idea," she says. "It's something that has proven to really work. I think the potential impact the store has on the school is important and profound. I love that it serves all kids, not just the ones who get accolades because they're a jock or they play instruments in a band."
Teachers report that since the store opened, referrals to the office for bad behavior have fallen.
When she's not volunteering at area schools, Beth is leading music classes with families and their young children and infants. "It's fun to see families have 45 minutes in their week to focus on their children and play music with them," she says.
She adds that she's not the only volunteer who deserves praise in Steamboat.
"Like so many of us who live and stay here, it was important for us to be in a place with a strong sense of community," she says. "There are hundreds of amazing volunteers in this town."