Baccalaureate candidate helps teachers clear list of school supplies

Jill Hussong arrived home after taking her son to college, saw a pile of packages stacked near his front door, and felt a wave of worry, familiar to anyone known for shopping online. late at night : What did I order this time?

As she opened boxes, worry turned to joy. These items were not his own purchases, but strangers. People Hussong had never met were eager to help him prepare his class for the upcoming school year and had cleared his Amazon wishlist.

Hussong, a fourth-grade teacher in Shakopee, Minnesota, had requested dozens of picture books and chapters for her class. She teaches in her school’s online program, for families who don’t feel comfortable attending school in person. His students will not have access to the school library.

“My mind is completely blown away,” she said.

Launched in 2019 as a private Facebook group for Texas educators, #ClearTheList has grown into a national movement, supported by social media influencers and celebrities, to help teachers equip their classrooms. In recent years, the plight of American teachers has become impossible to ignore, as educators speak freely about the little they get paid and the personal money they spend on classroom necessities.

According to a Department of Education survey, 94% of teachers in US public schools reported paying for school supplies out of their own pocket in the 2014-15 school year. These teachers spent an average of $ 479 each. Thousands of teachers across the country are so desperate for more funds that they’ve taken a second job.

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Not to mention there’s a global pandemic that explodes just as American children return to classrooms, Afghanistan is engulfed in chaos and a devastating earthquake in Haiti recently killed more than 2,200 people. .

“Everything fears” tweeted influencer Ashley Spivey August 3. “Help yourself make a list for a teacher in need. … Studies say that deleting a list makes you 87% happier. Give it a try.

Spivey, 36, rose to fame during season 15 of ABC’s hit reality show “The Bachelor,” which aired in 2011. Since then, the nanny and Instagram influencer have been working to use her platform. shape for good, avoiding the growing idea that social media consumption is mostly bad. She regularly raises funds for teachers and encourages her supporters to donate blood.

In early August, Spivey set a goal of erasing the lists of 100 teachers and counselors across the country. She requested submissions, along with a short bio, via her Instagram direct post, particularly encouraging applications from teachers in Title I schools in low-income neighborhoods. She stopped counting when more than 800 teachers reached out. Organizing the lists into a spreadsheet featuring nearly 50 states, she shared the link with her 82,000 Instagrams and 69,000 Twitters.followers. She thought it would take a month to complete.

Eight days later, they had cleared 155 lists, shattering Spivey’s original goal.

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Spivey credits a family friend with teaching her the value of education and helping her fall in love with reading. For her, clearing a teacher’s list isn’t just about participating in a fun social media campaign, but showing how a small act of kindness can impact a community.

Former baccalaureate candidate Ashley Spivey has helped more than 155 teachers outfit their classrooms this fall through donated supplies.

“I know it’s been awful lately, and I know people feel helpless,” Spivey said. “But you don’t have to think about how you can help the whole country. When you look in your yard, it’s not just about helping a teacher; this generosity has repercussions on the student, on his family. I hope when people see this effort they try to do more in their community. “

Whatever you do, says Spivey, don’t fall for the conventional end-of-school giveaway trap.

“People think we get books or pencils for teachers, which we are, but it’s also what kids need, like socks, snacks and laundry detergent,” Spivey said. “Teachers don’t need another cup – they need real help. “

While #ClearTheList has in the past been supported by actresses like Jessica Alba, Spivey has found that this year it is more useful to work with other “micro-influencers”. These people might not be so well known to the general public, but they do have a dedicated following and see their online community as a kind of nationwide group of friends. Over the weekend, comedian Ashley Hesseltine, co-host of the popular “Girls Gotta Eat” podcast, shared her own Excel spreadsheet with links to over 600 teacher wishlists.

Dozens of teachers have shared their lists with USA TODAY, which ranges from $ 300 to $ 1,200. They asked for conventional items such as books, markers and art supplies, but also mobile whiteboards, alternative seats, headphones and phone charging cables, things that can make their rooms more functional and comfortable. . Teachers in low-income schools have requested items such as backpacks, which they can send home permanently with disadvantaged students.

Sarah Rainier, who teaches science and social studies in fifth grade, receives $ 100 a year from her school to equip her southern New Jersey classroom for 75 students, most from low-income families. His list, totaling 75 articles, was erased in less than six hours after Spivey posted it.

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The generosity of strangers lightens a huge burden on cash-strapped parents, Rainier said, and is especially pleasing to educators after a year of what appeared to be dragged through the mud because of the pandemic. “So many teachers have been blamed for the fact that schools were not open even though it was not our fault.”

Sarah Rainier, a fifth-grade teacher in New Jersey, with all the gifts from her Amazon Wish List given by strangers who wanted to help her provide her students.

For Whitney Fowler in Nederland, Texas, located about 90 miles east of Houston, the concept of asking strangers for charity was unthinkable when she started teaching 11 years ago. She was reluctant to submit her list to Spivey.

“There’s a certain stigma attached to sharing a list,” Fowler admitted. “There can be judgment from others, especially people outside the profession. They will ask, ‘Why do you need this? Didn’t you know how much education pays before you enroll? “

In Fowler’s first job at a Title I school, the money was so tight that teachers were limited to 1,000 copies of any worksheet per class. She often had to pay out of pocket for extra copies of spreadsheets. His Amazon listing totaled around $ 500. After her list was cleared, Fowler, like many teachers, paid her off in advance, helping buy supplies for two of her former students who are in their first year of teaching.

She wonders if, after more than a year of home schooling because of the pandemic, parents and the general public have a better appreciation of teachers. No matter what forces random people to help her students, she will take it. And she’s grateful that #ClearTheList can educate the public not only about what teachers need, but what they actually do – caring for everyone who comes into their class, not just looking after their needs. educational.

Taylor Olsen teaches social students at Harlowton High in central Montana, a school of about 90 children in grades 7 to 12. Olsen began following avid reader Spivey for her book recommendations and submitted her list on a whim. She never imagined that strangers would pay close to $ 800 to help her students. Now she plans to teach it in class.

“I look forward to talking with my students about how people who are probably different from us – socio-economically, politically, religiously, people who look different from us – care about you and your education. “said Olsen.

Says Rainer, the fifth-grade teacher from New Jersey, “My kids see a lot of negative in this world. The message that someone is rooted to them is powerful.

And that’s a lesson, she says, that remains, long after the students have left her well-stocked classroom.

How to help

Want to help a teacher in your community? Search #ClearTheList on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find a list of teachers – then let the shopping begin!

You can also search by zip code or specific school on DonorsChoose.org, another website where educators frequently fundraise for their classes.



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