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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ask a Teacher: How Can I Help my School?

Emilie over at Teaching Ain't for Heroes addresses how parents can help their school systems at the beginning (and throughout) the year. Thanks, Emilie!


School is about to begin across the US (or has just started depending on where you are). Whether you know it or not, there is a need at your school. One of my most common questions I get as a teacher is what individuals can do to help out at their school or other local schools. Here are some simple ways you can help out and make a difference.

1. Buy a few extra supplies from your supply list.

Every year, there is at least one kid whose parents won't or can't buy their child's school supplies. Often times the teacher either has to pay for these items out of her own pocket or the child has to use secondhand supplies. It might seem minor, but when everyone else is getting out their brand new Crayolas and you're using half-sized store brand crayons, it can be sad for that child. Often stores have a buy one, get one sale going on so close to school anyway, so pick up an extra pack of crayons or extra pencils while you're on your Back to School Target run and give them to the teacher explaining that you bought extra on purpose.

2. Donate old books, magazines or other texts to a local school.

I know you remember cutting stuff out of old magazines in school. Where do you think those magazines came from? Sometimes teachers have subscriptions or doctors offices donate their old periodicals. If you happen to have any old magazines or any old texts, call up a local school and let them know what you have. There is often a place for teachers to look through donated materials that people bring in. You don't even have to be affiliated with the school to do this, so if you have elementary aged children but high school level texts, you can call the high school and drop off the items. The big thing is to let the school know that you are coming.

3. Buy or find some extra school clothes.

If your school has a uniform or dress code, pick up some extra polos or pants the next time you see a sale. This is something I'd encourage you to do throughout the year if you're able to. If your school has no dress code, pick up any generic clothes you can on the cheap. Look through your children's old clothes and see what's still presentable to donate to the school. Remember that not all children are "average" sized and some times even your adult sized clothes can work. As long as the clothes are clean and intact, your donation could mean the world to a kid who has an accident at school or maybe even has come to school in the exact same shirt since the school year began.

4. DonorsChoose

So maybe none of those ideas are what you're looking for. If you'd like to just donate money and leave the shopping to someone else. You can search for schools in your area and pick what project you want to donate to after reading about the teacher and her class. I recently submitted a DonorsChoose project (no, I'm not plugging myself, I'm already fully funded!) and I was very pleased with the experience on my end. The teacher first has to pick out resources that are purchased for the teacher, so you don't have to worry about your money being used for any nefarious purposes.

5. Ask the teacher.

If all else fails, ask the teacher what she needs. Maybe there's a student who never has lunch and she could use some shelf stable food to keep in her room to help him out. Maybe a student has had a family emergency and has some specific needs. You'll never know unless you ask!


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