It’s back-to-school time, and I’m going shopping.
I love this time of year when store shelves are stocked with crayon boxes, notebook paper and folders in every color. I’m always tempted to pick up extra supplies, knowing teachers often have to buy their own for students who come to school without any. But this year, I’m buying for a special group of teachers whose classrooms were destroyed by tornadoes, floods and other storms that hit Oklahoma in late May. I hope the public will join me.
Earlier this month, I asked teachers from affected districts to share their lists of needed classroom supplies. I told them to dream big and ask for any item, large or small that had been destroyed in their classrooms during the storm. My department has heard from more than 50 teachers in Moore, and a few from other areas such as El Reno, Crutcho, Mid-Del and Shawnee, who have shared their lists.
These lists are posted on the State Department of Education's Website. Click here to see the lists that have been shared.
The public is invited to help meet these needs. This weekend, when many items will be tax free, will be a great time to shop.
Items can be dropped off at the State Department of Education, 2500 N Lincoln Blvd., in the Hodge Building, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
We hope to deliver the supplies to these teachers before school starts.
Since we started this project, we've heard from the Union County Library System in Pennsylvania. Staff members there have collected a truckload of supplies for this project. We've also heard from the mother of a precious 12-year-old girl in Nebraska. My'Kah Knowlin has been collecting supplies all summer. They will be driving to meet us in Moore this Friday to deliver items directly to some Moore children.
I'm overwhelmed by the support we are receiving. Like I said, I plan to do my own shopping to help meet these needs, I know others will want to join me.
Our teachers do so much for our children. They not only teach them reading and writing and arithmetic, they also care about the personal needs of the children in their classrooms. They stay long hours and supply needs out of their own meager salaries. And, when called upon, they protect their children by putting their own lives at risk.
Many adults will tell you it was the spark of a great teacher that changed the course of their lives.
Elaine Hutchison, the 2013 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, tells the story of a young man who sat in her classroom, passed onto her by others who thought he just refused to learn. She found the key to his interest and helped him discover he was gifted in math. He visited her at a recent graduation ceremony, proudly telling her of earning an engineering degree and thanking her for taking an interest in him. I hear many similar stories as I travel the state visiting school districts and community groups.
Project Meet the Need is only one small way to say thank you to teachers who lost so much this past spring. Let's brainstorm this year to think of many more ways to show our gratitude for teachers: people who not only impact the lives of our children but also are an integral part of the very fabric of our society.