April 14, 2014

Teachers Change Lives

The other day I was cleaning out my closet, and I stumbled upon my old high school yearbook. Naturally I had to take it out, read all of the signatures that were inside, and browse through the pictures of long lost friends. Then towards the back, I started flipping through the pages of the faces of those who had taught me so much.

When you are young, you never really think much about your teachers and exactly what it is that they are doing for you. Mostly we just look at them as the people who grade our papers, help us find library books, and are standing outside in the morning when we get off the school bus. But once you leave those hallways, and enter into "the real world", it's easy to look back and really be thankful for all they did. It doesn't matter if they were your regular teacher, or your gym teacher, they all gave you a helping hand.

I am fortunate in that I come from a family that has had a few educators. I've had a great "behind the scenes" look at educators and I know how teaching effects them. My grandmother has spent 30 years working with elementary aged children, and a good majority of those years working in the elementary school library. I was lucky enough during my high school years to be able to job shadow her on a few occasions. A class would come in, and they would place the books they had previously taken out on a cart. Then they would run over to the carpet, and form a half circle shape around a chair. It was story time. She would pick a book, sometimes a classic, or sometimes a new off-the-press book. Either way, she was about to take them on some sort of adventure. Maybe they were goats on a farm trying to cross a bridge, or maybe they were astronauts taking a spaceship to the moon. She would captivate the kids by really getting into the story. Asking them what they thought might happen next, or standing up and acting out part of the story with them. The looks on the kids faces was always the same.... eyes focused on her, with mouths starting to drop open. She had them engrossed in the book. While she was reading, I would notice how she would glance up, look around, and get a smile on her face. I could see that this is what made her job rewarding. Taking these children who spend most of their days playing video games, or watching TV, and taking them to a whole new world with just words.

One sad thing I would notice is how much out of pocket spending she had to do to provide the environment that these children deserved. Pillows for the children to sit on, special bookmarks she hand made for each child in the school, right down to basic pencils and crayons. With school budgets shrinking, more teachers and educators are reaching into their own pockets to continue to provide our children with the best learning tools. Thankfully Office Depot is also seeing this growing issue, and is doing something to help with their Teachers Change Lives program.

Office Depot and Adopt-A-Classroom have partnered to raise awareness about teachers, and all that they do in the lives of their students. Adopt-A-Classroom is a nonprofit organization that helps connect donors with teachers to enhance the learning environment for students. 

Just as an example, please watch the video below of a teacher who completely touched my heart. Virginia Hamilton is a teacher from Indialantic, Florida who teaches her students about giving back by volunteering at kill shelters. Her students help train the dogs so they are more adoptable.

How heartwarming is that? I love how she is taking teaching to a whole new level. Teaching these children how to give back to not only people, but animals is simply amazing. This builds character and gives the children a chance to really change lives.

You can donate to Virginia Hamilton, or to any teacher in your community very easily. Or if you are a teacher, you can also register your classroom. Simple steps are below!

I hope that you feel inspired to get out in your own community and help the teachers and educators that are doing so much for our future generations. If you happen to be a educator reading this, I want to personally thank you for all that you do! 

Please feel free to share your own stories with me. I'd love to hear your story about your favorite teacher(s)!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


  1. Thank you, I am honored you have posted our project on your site.

    Virginia Hamilton and Canine Commandos.

    1. Believe me Virginia the pleasure was all mine. Thank you and your students for the amazing things you do!