May 2021

Teacher Appreciation Continues

Teacher Appreciation Continues

We had so much fun with our Teacher Appreciation 10 Days of Giveaways! There were nearly 100 teachers' names in the hat! We ended up sending out SEVEN Amazon gift cards and donating to THREE different DonorsChoose projects! It has been an honor and privilege to be able to celebrate and support teachers in these tangible ways.  

We know that there are so many more teachers out there who have learned and grown so much through this adventure, and we'd love to be able to treat ALL teachers to a little gift, but that's just not realistic. We were able to celebrate and support ten teachers from all over the country. If you know these wonderful humans, give them a virtual high five!  

Amazon gift card winners: 

Shana Schwan, MN 
Denise Buck, TX 
Molly Paradis, NC 
LaDena Campbell, KS 
Rebecca Adams, TX 
Richard White, GA 
Jo Layne Cafasso, NC 

DonorsChoose donation recipients: 

Monica Bowman - congratulations on a fully funded project!! 
Karina Garcia – congratulations on a fully funded project!! 
Norma Cordova - "All Aboard the Cricut Creative Train" will provide a Cricut machine and necessary materials to allow students to bring their imaginations alive with various arts and crafts projects! 

If you are interested in contributing to Norma's project, just click on her name above and you will be taken to the project page where you'll be able to donate. She's about halfway to being fully funded and currently, all donations are being matched, so your contribution will go twice as far if you donate today!  


As part of the entry form, we asked teachers to describe their year in 5 words or fewer. Here are some of their responses: 

  • "A year of adjustment" - Shekesha J., GA  

  • "Intensive support for kids, vital" - Amelia R., NC 

  • "An everchanging beautiful adventure" - Deena D., TX 

  • "Teaching beginning instruments online – yikes!" - Heather T., NY 

  • "Unprecedented challenges meet unrelenting effort!" - Alejandro D., TX 

  • "Relearn, reboot, rebuild, restart, remember" - Lesley P., NJ 

  • "One of growth and flexibility." - Melissa D., NJ 

  • "Emotionally draining yet still hopeful" - Teresa M., IN 

  • "Unbelievably demanding. So many unknowns." - Lauren B., CA 

  • "Crazy, tearful, joyful, dysfunctional, exhausting" - Andrea T., OR 


Wow! So many different emotions and experiences! Teaching has never been easy, but we think it's safe to say that it was flipped upside down during the pandemic and this year has certainly been one for the history books. Between the sudden shutdowns, being thrust into virtual learning with little resources and support, and the uncertainty of when in-person learning would return has had significant impacts on those on the front lines of the education battlefield. But the resiliency we've seen is truly inspiring.  


THANK YOU, TEACHERS! You have shown us the very meaning of dedication, flexibility, and perseverance, and while we hope the end of the pandemic is near, we know that our students are in the best hands possible. And just in case this hasn’t been enough of a happy note for you, just remember - summer is right around the corner! 

Teaching in the Pandemic, Part 2

Teaching in the Pandemic, Part 2

As if we didn't already appreciate teachers before COVID-19 threw a giant wrench into what we knew as normal, everything they've done over the past 14 months has significantly deepened our gratitude. We love how they have faced new challenges with redoubled determination and dedication, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts! Since we are celebrating teachers this month, we thought it was appropriate that we posted our second round of interviews with teachers about what school has been like during the pandemic. 

Meet Kathy, an EC teacher for a k-12 school, who loves all her kids and calls the youngest ones her "littles"; Derrick, a passionate and dedicated high school history teacher; and Barbara Jane, a 5th grade teacher who loves to make her students laugh while learning.


What has been your general experience with school this year? 
Despite the range of age, experience, and geography, these three teachers have all struggled to some degree. Kathy, the most veteran of the group, said, "Many things seem harder than I anticipated. It feels like being a first-year teacher in a lot of respects.”

Derrick is overwhelmed by what feels like double the course load. A big concern is that the students don't seem to be doing the work and their grades are suffering. "I'm exhausted. I feel burnt out and ready to give up some days. But I keep going because I love my job and my community."

Barbara Jane's experience has been "beyond unexplainable." Being completely virtual before March 15, her students had little to no opportunity to socialize and see their friends. She said, "I have AIG and bright students who are failing because they have shut down and just don’t care anymore." Like Derrick, Barbara Jane feels like the workload has more than doubled, and the stress, she says, "is triple the normal amount."


What’s the best part?
Kathy said, "I'm a student at heart, so embracing the use of technology has been something I have resisted for a long time, but I'm coming to my senses." She no longer considers herself an "old school" teacher. While Kathy and Derrick have both enjoyed learning new ways to differentiate and teach, Barbara Jane's silver lining has been having the support of fellow teachers and the ability to vent common frustrations. Having such comrades who know the path you're walking makes it a little easier to walk.


What is your biggest challenge?
For Kathy, not seeing her kids in physical space is a challenge. She worries about their mental and social health quite a bit and misses being able to hug them to help reassure them that it gets better. Barbara Jane is also concerned for her students as they are less engaged online than they would be in the classroom.


What do you hope to learn from this school year?
Barbara Jane has learned not to take the simple things for granted: having students in the classroom, being allowed to give them hugs, playing games at recess, laughing together, actually seeing their smiling faces instead of a black screen with their initials. Being able to see students in-person is a huge deal for Kathy too, but she has also learned how to connect with them on different levels, utilize new programs to differentiate and teach her lessons, and communicate with families more. Ultimately, "shared experiences dealing with the shut-down has made us more understanding of each other's needs."

Teachers, like everyone else, have all been doing their best to make the most out of a difficult situation. This small sampling is hardly the tip of the iceberg of feelings that teachers have experienced over the last year, but we can see that even with the biggest struggles and toughest obstacles, our teachers are persevering and doing everything they can to provide quality education to their students. They are also looking forward to the day when things can be "normal" again, as we all are!