The Kindness of Others Filled My Gym and My Students’ Hearts With Love
A special education teacher is blown away by her community's generosity
Teachers often spend their own money to purchase items their students need to flourish. According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit organization AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers spend an average of $750 of their own money each year for classroom supplies. As a physical education teacher, I can personally attest to this; so can my husband from looking at our bank account.
After I had children, I stepped away from teaching full time to have more flexibility in caring for my daughter Cammy, who has Rett syndrome. I returned to teaching this year, this time doing adapted PE, and have become more aware of how much time and money special education teachers spend to create a successful environment for each child. The special education teachers, therapists, and specialists at Cammy’s school are constantly brainstorming and trying new things to help her participate and thrive.
Recently, a friend who lives in the community where I teach asked me what I needed for my adapted PE classes and said that she and many other families would be more than happy to donate items. That idea struck me, as I’ve always been the one hosting fundraisers like book sales or dunk tanks to raise money for Cammy’s teachers. I realized more people like me are out there and want to help teachers, but are unaware of their classroom needs.
So on a recent Sunday evening, I created an Amazon wishlist for my adapted PE classes. I asked for things like dance ribbons, fidget toys, balance boards, and adapted equipment like jump rope spinners. I posted it on social media. Within seconds, items were disappearing, and by Monday morning, most items had been purchased. I couldn’t believe it.
By Monday afternoon, three packages had already arrived. I wasn’t surprised to see that they were from three of the most passionate teacher friends I know. After work on Tuesday, I came home to at least 20 packages on my doorstep. I cried as I read the uplifting, encouraging notes. People I’ve known throughout my 42 years of existence sent items, including some of my childhood and high school friends, a student from my very first class 20 years ago, and parents from my community.
I was on cloud nine as I filled up two wagons to deliver packages for my students to open on Wednesday. The excitement a few nonverbal students expressed with their bodies matched all the thoughts, feelings, and words I conveyed. I posted a few videos of my students using the new equipment and received messages from friends who’d sent items about how happy they were to see the students’ happiness and success.
It really is true that the more we give, the more we receive.
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