COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Every year around this time history comes to life at Nursery Road Elementary School in Columbia.
"I've been teaching for a while, I've been in education for a while, and I've never seen a performance like this with the whole school incorporating the standards," Associate Principal Brandon Gantt said. "It's amazing."
Each spring Kindergarten through 5th-grade students put their social studies standards of staging. The performance is the brainchild of music teacher Lisa Brooks.
"Basically it starts at our earliest Americans, our Native Americans and goes all the way to the Great Depression," said Brooks.
By the end of the show, the crowd goes wild. But at the end of this year's show, there was also a special surprise.
What Wilcox didn't know was that Lisa Brooks had nominated her as a WIS Community Builder in partnership with Mungo Homes for her endless dedication as a volunteer with the annual production.
"I'm here not only because of your many years as a teacher here, but because of your many, many hours of volunteering with the arts and theater at Nursery Road," Matt Mungo told Wilcox. "You have been nominated and chosen as our Community Builder and you will get $1,000 check to the charity of your choice from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation."
The crowd roared in applause and gave Wilcox a standing ovation. That's because she spends countless hours making sure that every child at the school has a costume for the show. There are nearly 500 students who participate.
"She's the most giving, humble soul I've ever met ever," said Brooks.
Some of the outfits take hours to make, while others come together quickly.
"Some of the costumes we purchase at consignment, and some I make," said Wilcox.
But because of her efforts, the students get a social studies lesson in style.
"We try to teach them so that they understand it's not just putting a costume together, but it's understanding how a piece of the costume fits into history," said Wilcox.
"Mrs. Wilcox is dressing them up and teaching them about the timeline, the history at that time, and then they go back to the classroom and it makes the teacher's job that much easier because they're already interested," Gantt said.
Wilcox, who retired from teaching two years ago starts preparing months in advance. While she donates countless hours to make it happen, she says she wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's just a joy," Wilcox said. "It's hard to explain. Somebody said to me, 'Do they pay you to do this?' and I said, 'No, but I get payment in other ways. I get payment with a friendship with Lisa Brooks and all my former colleagues here at nursery roads and of course the students.'"
Wilcox volunteers not only for the spring show, but she helps with a production in the winter, as well. She says her $1,000 will go right back to helping fund music programs at the school.