A splash of color brightens the music room at Carpenter Elementary School, thanks to an act of generosity from a volunteer who often donates his carpentry skills.
When Kerry Gleeton started teaching at Carpenter in 2018, she envisioned displaying the
ukuleles for her students on a colorful ukulele wall she had seen on Pinterest. She took the idea
to Principal Michael Johnson, only to return on a Monday two weeks later to find her dream had
become a reality.
Three wooden racks had been built right into the classroom wall, ready to display the 30 ukuleles
Gleeton was in the midst of acquiring through an organization called DonorsChoose.
“I was absolutely floored when I came in and saw it already done,” she said.
The surprise was thanks to Glenn Timpe, a former Carpenter Cougar, longtime parent, and
grandparent at the school who often volunteers his handyman skills. At Johnson’s request, they
had taken Gleeton’s vision and together turned it into the beautiful “rainbow wall of ukuleles” that now
graces the music room.
Gleeton says her students love the several weeks they get to learn the ukulele.
“It’s a really fun instrument to start off the year,” she said. “They love it. It’s one of their favorite
things to do. They love that each of them can have their own so they don’t need to share it in
class. It gives them so much more time to have one-on-one attention with me. They also enjoy
learning about the Hawaiian culture through the ukulele.”
Not all AAPS schools have ukuleles, but it happens to be one of Gleeton’s favorites to teach, which is why she used donorschoose.org to fund her ukulele project.
At Carpenter, all third graders learn a few basic chords, how to strum, and how to play open strings. Fifth graders learn more advanced chords, chord progressions, and various strumming patterns. Fourth graders, meanwhile, learn the recorder.
The ukulele lessons include lots of group activities and play-along activities.
“They enjoy the sound that it makes and they love that it’s so easy to just start performing and
playing together,” she said. “It’s a really great way to incorporate teamwork … So we really do consider the ukulele to be one of our favorite instruments. And we love how they are so beautifully on