Each year the Mission endeavors to provide as many kids as possible with a backpack filled with school supplies. For teachers like Heather Hempler, a 2nd grade teacher at Ross Elementary, this is critically important to helping her kids learn well. Schools in impoverished areas more often see kids who are struggling to learn because they are hungry and not well rested.
“It’s not unusual to walk into my room and see a student eating or sleeping because they just need that. Without that need being met, they can’t focus on learning. I guess the biggest reason I teach at Ross is because I know not everyone has the patience for the needs these kids have. I know I can help them in whatever way they need. Not every teacher or person has that understanding of the students needing their basic needs met before they can learn. I have truly found a passion for these students!”
As public schools receive fewer funds from the state, the list of supplies needed for classrooms grows and for schools in areas of higher poverty, providing supplies is a real challenge for families. The percentage of students that are unable to afford school supplies varies from year to year, but this year Heather reports having more students unable to bring school supplies than she did last year.
“I am always spending money on my classroom. This year I bought, with my own funds, about three times as much as the district/school provided. One of the most important supplies I use in my room is notebooks. I always have my students keep an interactive notebook for each subject and often times I am either purchasing my own notebooks for students who don’t have any or using our Community in Schools lady as a resource. She has some supplies, but with nearly 650 students the supply is very limited.”
Notebooks are important to Heather as she tries to engage students with various learning styles. Interactive notebooks add an extra layer of learning, as students are able to write and draw in response to what they are learning.
“It has become such a routine for me to help the students who have high needs such as being unable to afford supplies, snacks, backpacks, etc. If I didn’t take the time to meet those needs, the students wouldn’t be on an equal playing field as the others who can afford those things.”
While helping families with school supplies is important. teachers also need assistance stocking their classrooms with snacks, sanitizing wipes, Kleenex, and for teachers like Heather, spiral notebooks!
“My biggest hope for my students is that they continue to believe in themselves the way that I believe in them. So many of these kids come to me at the beginning of the year feeling like a failure or like they are inadequate. I make it my goal, my purpose, every year to build a growth mindset in these kids. I really hope they can continue that growth mindset into the future.”
Donations of schools supplies can be brought to the Distribution Center at 401 NW Norris, M-F
8a-4p and Sat 9a-1p.