Group steps up to help Wichita area teachers prepare for school year

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:58 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In preparation for each school year, it’s not just time and effort teachers invest. In many cases, it’s also their own money to make all of their students have the supplies they need.

This year presents added challenges and a greater cost due to COVID-19. That’s inspired a group organized on Facebook for the community to step in and help.

“(Teachers) are spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars getting their rooms ready,” said Wichita Area Adopt A Teacher Campaign organizer Erica Miner. “Especially during this COVID, everything has to be separate. There’s more of a need. They need a way to separate all of these items and it’s a little more taxing this year with budget cut plus the need for the extra supplies.”

Miner saw this firsthand on Sunday when she saw her neighbor, a teacher, return from the store.

She said, “A trunk full of stuff, and I was wow, you went shopping today, and she was like, this is all for my classroom. She was like this is going to break me this month.”

Miner added, “She didn’t know how she was going to pay rent at the end of the month.”

She said she was “in shock” by how much goes into what teachers do to provide for their classes.

Miner started the Wichita Area Adopt A Teacher campaign and quickly started to get a following on Facebook.

Miner said, “It just came to me. I was like why can’t we do a page Adopt a Teacher and people could go off of an Amazon wishlist or even meet with the teacher in person and just get them what they need.”

“During this pandemic, us teachers are facing challenges that we’ve never faced before,” said Goddard Academy teacher and friend of Miner, Chrissy Brandon.

She added, “We, as teachers, we’re learning new things. We are having to pull things out of our bags we never used before or that we’ve never imagined having to do. To continue to keep that rigor going in the classroom, even if they’re online and that they’re separate from one another.”

Teachers post their wishlists in the Facebook group and with that, someone can “adopt” them. It’s coming to mean a lot for educators like Brandon.

“For those kiddos that don’t have a backpack or pencils, pens, all of that is going to be put back on us as teachers because we have to be able to have those supplies for them in the classroom and not allow them to share. We normally spend several hundred dollars.” Brandon said, “Five to 600 hundred dollars typically is what I’ll spend every year out of my own pocket. This year, it’s going to be more because of that. Every student is going to need a hand full of pencils and pens and their own notebooks.”

Most times, this is spent on essentials on teachers’ wish lists include supplies like glue sticks, dry-erase markers, and No. 2 pencils.

“This year it’s going to be more (expensive),” Brandon said.

That’s because, with COVID-19, everything has to be separate.

“Everything has to be separate. There’s more of a need. They need a way to separate all of these items and it’s a little more taxing this year with budget cut plus the need for the extra supplies,” Miner said.

Teachers are also worried about keeping the cleaning supplies they need in stock for their classrooms.

The Adopt A Teacher campaign also is finding that items like headphones are a must-have for students with many lessons involving work on tablets.

Carrie Binger, who is a friend of Erica and is helping to manage the group said, “17 plus students all working on tablets and if they didn’t bring earbuds from home, then they’re stuck listening to everybody else’s assignment.”

Binger said through a company her husband and her own, they were able to get 1,000 headphones donated that they will be giving to teachers.

With people in the community stepping up in such a way as helping to pay for supplies, teachers like Brandon say they’re grateful. It’s one less burden for them to face.

Binger said, “Positive re-enforcement to the teachers that we are Wichita, Kansas, and we are going to support each other.”

“See and they know that we need the support and we need the love and they are pouring in,” said Brandon.

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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