A Day Made Better
by John Pearson
The Dallas Independent School District (where I work) is currently facing a budget shortfall of somewhere between $64 million and $144 million. With that tremendous crisis looming over our heads, it’s nice to see a story like “A Day Made Better” by OfficeMax and Adopt-A-Classroom.
Contrary to what some believe, teachers do not have a magic endless supply room to visit when paper or pencils start running low. Each student receives a supply list at the beginning of the year, including folders, notebooks, Kleenex, and such, but many do not bring supplies, and even when they do, those supplies are often consumed long before the end of the school year. The burden usually then falls on the classroom teacher to provide more supplies out of pocket.
A 2005 survey by the National Education Association found that the average teacher will spend over $1000 dollars of his or her own money each year on classroom supplies. This is not just for typical supplies, as it includes room decorations, posters, stickers and toys, and the like. For teachers who are not independently wealthy or filthy rich like yours truly (yeah, right), this out of pocket expense can be quite exhausting.
Then along came “A Day Made Better,” (www.adaymadebetter.com) the joint program between OfficeMax and Adopt-A-Classroom. Tomorrow, October 1, will mark the second day that these two programs have surprised over 1,000 classrooms around the country with gift donations of swivel chairs, supply carts, and school supplies from nearby OfficeMax retail stores.
In October 2007, the inaugural “A Day Made Better” was initiated, and in addition to making all of those teachers and their students around the country very happy, the news coverage garnered enough support and donations to Adopt-A-Classroom (www.adoptaclassroom.com) that the not-for-profit organization was able to fund over 10,000 classrooms.
Earlier this month, the list of selected schools was announced. These schools and certain teachers from them were nominated by principals, other teachers, and parents and community members. Most of the schools involved are Title I schools, meaning that over 40% of the students enrolled are benefited by the Federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program.
The schools were announced, but the teachers remain a surprise until October 1. Check the main website, and you can watch a very moving video of October 1 from last year, when OfficeMax employees showed up unannounced at schools around the country and presented the surprised teachers with the package of school supplies, valued at $1,000.
If you know of a deserving teacher or school that is in need to school supplies, please consider nominating them for NEXT year’s “A Day Made Better.”
John Pearson is a third-grade math and science teacher in Dallas, Texas. He has degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke University and Texas A&M, so most consider his math abilities adequate enough to teach nine-year olds. He is also the author of Learn Me Good (Lulu, 2006), a funny, fictionalized account of his first year in education. Read more at www.learnmegood.com