Kate AtwoodBy Kate Atwood

It’s September, and school is back in session.  Often this is the season where we talk about ways to help youth who need resources to improve their educational experiences. While I think that is a vital need, I am taking a slightly different angle in this month’s column.  I am going to focus on ways to support our teachers and educators who work tirelessly to deliver our kids the best education available.

Due to budget cuts and a struggling economy, teachers are often left scrambling for adequate classroom supplies. In fact, did you know that teachers in the United States spend on average $500 out of their own pocket for classroom supplies? I’m sure those in lesser-funded schools are likely to spend even more.

For those of you who are parents and already active in PTA or who lend an extra hand in your child’s classroom, I applaud you.  Being an active parent in your child’s school is a great way to give back.  But too often there are classrooms and teachers that don’t have this support.

Luckily, there are organizations that provide an easy way for all of us to help teachers in our community. Here are two organizations that have creative and easy ways to help.

The Kids in Need Foundation is a dynamic organization with a mission to ensure that every child is prepared to learn and succeed.  The organization does this by providing free school supplies to under-funded teachers and classrooms most in need.  What’s exciting about the Kids in Need Foundation is its recent campaign with EXPO markers.  For every package of EXPO markers sold in the U.S. this September, EXPO will donate one marker to the foundation. In addition, the company will donate up to an additional 20,000 markers for every person who “likes” EXPO on its Facebook page. It doesn’t get any easier to make a difference.   If you can’t get to the store to buy the markers, you can donate $10 by texting “SCHOOL” to 85944. To find out about more ways to help, visit www.kinf.org.

DonorChoose.org was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago by a friend.  I went to the site and absolutely loved what I saw.  This site actually allows teachers to upload classroom needs and projects that can then be browsed by potential donors. The donors then choose the classroom project they want to help support.  It’s a great way to get involved in helping teachers, knowing exactly what your money is helping to provide.  Plus, the kids post their “thanks yous” on the site for even more reward. To learn more, visit www.donorchoose.org.

There are many ways we can come together to support all of the classrooms in our community. If nothing else, the next time you cross paths with a teacher, say thank you.  They truly give so much to our youth and deserve all the support and gratitude we are able to give them.

For more about Kate Atwood and her nonprofit, Kate’s Club, visit www.katesclub.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.