#clearthelists - Communities show support to educators

by Josie Fox josie@thecherokeean.com
Courtesy Photo
Jill Bourdreax, a teacher with Rusk ISD, shared an image showing several of the items she received from her Amazon wishlist. Many teachers are requesting items to add to their classroom libraries, flexible seating options and tools to assist with making lessons more interactive. Courtesy Photo
Jill Bourdreax, a teacher with Rusk ISD, shared an image showing several of the items she received from her Amazon wishlist. Many teachers are requesting items to add to their classroom libraries, flexible seating options and tools to assist with making lessons more interactive.

As teachers get ready to begin a new school year, many will reach into their own pockets to help supplement needed supplies for their classrooms. This year, through the help of a rapidly growing social media presence, teachers are getting help from anonymous donors and other teachers who are buying items on teachers’ Amazon Wishlists.

In July of this year, Courtney Jones who has been teaching in Texas since 2017, began a Facebook group called ‘Teacher Amazon Gifting’ which quickly went viral and lead to the creation of a Facebook public group titled ‘Support A Teacher-Teacher Gifting’ which allows teachers to post their Amazon Wishlists.

The original Facebook group has expanded to over 55 groups with 60,000 plus educators participating. The main group boasts 34,000 members with both regional and state groups. The Twitter page has now exceeded 1,700 members, with another 3,400 members on Instagram.

“I wanted to give teachers a platform to support each other in ways that would transform their classrooms,” Jones said. “With the lack of appropriate funding in our country for teachers and schools in general, I decided to take it into my own hands to change the way we valued our teachers, schools, and students. Every teacher I know is selfless and is constantly pouring themselves into their work and often times the teacher is the last person to be praised with the rise in high stakes testing and a lack of funding.”
“This movement is critical to raising awareness for public education funding in the United States,” said Jones. “Teachers reach into their own pockets, oftentimes spending thousands a year, to support our students’ learning.

“With this movement, we are transforming classrooms by teachers banding together and supporting each other. With the help of donors and corporations, we will be able to harness national attention and influence the education budgets in the U.S.”

The effects of this movement have been felt locally with teachers from area school districts posting and receiving items from their wishlist.

“I’ve been gifted and I have gifted others,” said Jenni Cudd. “It’s so exciting to receive packages, but its blessed me even more to be able to help other classrooms! Our kids are going to love the new things this year!”

Ashley Clayton Oliver from Rusk ISD has recently started a wishlist thread for teachers at Rusk Elementary School. Christi Starkey and Heather Beck are just a few of the teachers who began their wishlists with the help of Oliver.
“We spend so much each year trying to make our classrooms and lessons sparkle, and the help and show of support from our donors has been so uplifting,” said Christi Starkey. “This is my 14th year at RISD and I’ve never seen so much generosity and positivity. It is a great way to start the year.”

Starkey recently had her entire list cleared by a community member, fellow RISD staff members, family and friends. When asked what items she was most grateful to receive she responded by saying it was all appreciated. Starkey received books with fun ideas to teach second and third grade computer and RTI classes, flexible seating cushions, and a ring presenter that will allow her to change PowerPoint slides as she walks around the room.

“These are just a few of the items that will make a difference for my students. It’s like Christmas,” said Starkey.

“I posted my Amazon wishlist on the RISD wishlist thread that Ashley Oliver started,” says Heather Beck. “My entire list has been purchased by other generous souls, and I have tried to pay it forward by shopping a few other teachers’ lists.

“Teachers spend so much of their own money buying supplies and decorations for their rooms throughout the year so the wishlist was very beneficial in helping save some of that expense. I know, on mine, I put many books to use in my lessons and some really cool art supplies for some fun projects I have found this summer for my art kiddos. I am sure my mail carrier is tied of coming to my front door, as I have been overwhelmed with deliveries of wishlist goodies!

“It has been like Christmas around here for sure. I am incredible thankful for all of the support and can’t wait to use these items with my Elementary kiddos.”
“I’m humbled by the many who have asked about classroom needs. What a blessing to know so many friends, family and community members who wish to help,” Darla Moore posted on a thread on the Cherokeean’s Facebook page.

“I am a special education, life skills teacher,” Anna Marie Nichols wrote on the same Facebook thread. “I am looking for items to help my students with sensory needs and their wide variety of learning abilities.”

“It has been a real joy to give to other educators in this way, and also to receive special surprises myself,” wrote Tammy Greene.

Green, who has been an educator at Rusk ISD for 21 years, is transitioning into a division of the Family and Consumer Science umbrella through Career and Technical Education classes. The class is project based and hands on career cluster pathway courses.

“We are going to have an exciting year and I’d love for Cherokee County locals to partner with training future educators,” Greene went on to say.

“I am overwhelmed by the response to our wish lists. My students and I have been truly blessed. Not only are the donors making a difference to the students and teachers this year, but for years to come,” stated Jill Boudreaux.

“It reminds me of the quote ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, which means that it takes an entire community of different people interacting and helping one another to for the betterment of our youth. We are witnessing this proverb come to life. Again, thank you for supporting us as we endeavor to pour our hearts and souls into these students.”

The Cherokean recently stared a thread on their Facebook page providing teachers an opportunity to provide links to their Amazon wishlists, and donors an opportunity to easily access those lists. This thread will remain pinned to the top of the Facebook page through the end of September.

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