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It's Back-to-School Time and You Can Help

 
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You remember the good ol’ days. As the countdown to the first day of school started, you’d go to the mailbox to see who your homeroom teacher was going to be. Then, the phone lines would light up with  calls from your friends to see if you were in their classes.

Maybe you remember your first days on your chosen college campus. You’d find your classes and time your walking route to make sure that you found the shortest way so you’ll not be tardy (and to see just how late you could sleep in). Those times are upon us again, which leaves me asking, “Just where did summer go?”

teach.jpgIf you are a parent getting your children ready to go back to school, you’re probably overwhelmed with the lists of items needed to start the semester off right. New clothes, backpacks, pencils, special books, graph paper, blue or black ballpoint pens, erasers, copy paper, … the lists vary by grade and school, but there are many similarities. Those who are preparing to welcome your children back to school are also looking at some lists. I asked some current and past teachers for their input.

Ms. Mock, who is the mom of one of my classmates, and a first/second grade teacher from when we were in those grades, tells me that she always had individually-wrapped snacks in her desk for children who didn’t get breakfast. She had granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and the like ready to help these students get a good start to their days.

Two high school classmates of mine, Ms. Michelle and Ms. Donadio, teach first and second graders and shared that they need socks, plain t-shirts, sweatpants, and underwear because accidents happen. How thoughtful – I can’t imagine the embarrassment a child might have if they have an accident. They also put on their lists of needs pencils, glue sticks, notebooks, and loose leaf paper. Ms. Curry adds, “Belts! I’m always getting kids that need a belt.”

"Every student deserves my best every day. It is an honor to be a part of giving them the gift of an education. Education is the one gift that no one can take away."- Coach Moretz

My brother is in just a little different situation. He teaches math in high school, so his students’ needs are a little different. Coach Moretz has purchased graphing calculators for students who are unable to purchase their own, so they can participate in his class (these average around $100 each). There are students who need help purchasing required reading books for English and other classes.

No matter what grade level, teachers spend a lot of their money on supplies and projects needed for their students’ class work. Even so, if you ask any teacher, this is the answer you’ll get, “I gladly do this because I love what I do and I love my students. I want to provide each person that walks in my class the tools to be successful.”

There are other options for people to help by sharing their talents. As Ms. Mock said, “I loved having adults share their skills in areas such as art projects, simple construction, making ornaments, planting seeds, cooking, etc.” To volunteer in most school systems, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork and have a background check, but think of the gifts you’ll be sharing – helping someone finally understand fractions or developing a love for reading.

Here is some advice that Coach Moretz so eloquently shared for parents, teachers, and all community members:

Love your kids. Tell them it's okay to fail as long as they use it as a learning experience (I don't mean failing a class but to try something they may be uncomfortable with and learn from it). Tell your children to be honest with their teachers. If they need help, encourage them to speak with their teachers. If they don't have enough money for lunch, ask a teacher (I promised myself I will never let a student go without lunch and have either bought one for them or given them mine many times. I know most of my teacher friends do the same). If they have an idea about school or class, tell them to talk to their teachers. I LOVE learning new things from my students. If they are being bullied or feel uncomfortable about something, have them talk to SOMEONE. All these go for parents too. Communicate with your schools (email, call, anything).

colored-pencils.jpgMany communities have Back 2 School Festivals. These are designed to help families who are struggling with back-to-school costs to provide them with the supplies, clothing, etc. that their children will need. These festivals are fun, and the supplies are provided in a respectful manner to ensure that all students start the year on the right foot. Anyone can contribute to these events either by volunteering, making a monetary donation, or collecting needed school supplies to be distributed.

Here is a final thought from Coach Moretz, but again, we bet if you ask any of the teachers that responded to this interview…or any teacher, for that matter, their sentiments would be the same:

“Every student deserves my best every day. It is an honor to be a part of giving them the gift of an education. Education is the one gift that no one can take away.”

We urge you to be involved where you can – give a teacher a gift card to a local office supply store to pick up needed supplies or calculators, hold a school supply drive at your next book club meeting, pick up an extra package of pencils when you purchase your child’s supplies. Encourage our young people to take advantage of every opportunity they can to learn, experience, and grow. 

Below is a wish list with some of the most requested items that teachers and schools need. It is by no means inclusive of everything, but it's a start. Perhaps you can lend a hand. 

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