A Little House, A Big Dream

While many people have heard of DonorChoose.org, very few know the back story.  The organization was started by Charles Best, a high school history teacher who worked in public schools in the Bronx.  Charles wanted the students in his class to read the book Little House on the Prairie.  Like many teachers across the country, he was making photocopies of the book so each of his students would have a chance to read it.  It was while making these copies that he started thinking about his fellow educators and how they all had one big thing in common:  a huge need for resources, but very limited budgets.  

However, Charles didn’t stop thinking.  Instead, he began to wonder if there was a way in which people could fund teachers’ supplies, activities, and projects.  Maybe if people could actually “see” where their money was going, they’d be more willing to contribute.  Then, he had the idea to create a website to make this happen.  That’s how DonorsChoose was born.  The organization started out with only 11 requests posted to the site (all by Charles’ friends and colleagues).  Now, DonorsChoose is open to every public school in the U.S., funding classroom projects that fully enrich students and take their learning experiences to the next level.

And Now PTA Just Received a Set of the Same Books

Imagine my delight when a full set of the book Little House on the Prairie was donated to Pass the Apple by  a 4th grade teacher I work with. This is a timeless story  that is not  only a fun read for students, but also teaches  them about the    importance of good values,  compassion, and even independence.  The latter being  very important as we have the power to change the  world for the better if we stand up to the challenge.  This process starts by noticing where flaws exist and having courage to take positive action.

Like Charles, my journey to create Pass the Apple truly started when I realized teachers like me all over the country were dealing with limited budgets and spending their own money to fund items for their classrooms.  I felt like there had to be a way to make things easier and more financially feasible.  Then, the idea for Pass the Apple came to me and since our launch, we’ve remained dedicated to our mission:

Helping teachers around the country get the educational materials they need for the improvement of public school education and the support of educators.

We’ve also created a partnership with DonorsChoose.org called The Giving Tree.  Much like the famous book title suggests, we want to give back as much as possible to our fellow educators because we understand their struggles and are committed to being a source of continued support.

#IWishMyTeacherKnew

 Educational Statistics Just Got Real…

 

Have you heard of the book called “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything For Our Kids”?  It’s very popular at bookstores and has been shared countless times on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. 

While it is a heartbreaking read, it is an honest depiction of realities the students in our classrooms face once they step outside the classroom.  The book sheds light on the issues our students wish we, as their teachers, knew about them. Things such as poverty, housing insecurity, family, loss, grief, abuse, and neglect.  While the book serves as a huge wakeup call, it also shows how educators can cultivate an understanding of these issues to become better teachers and role models.

Oftentimes, we may wonder why a certain child isn’t acting normally.  We may question why the child is angry, misbehaving, or shutting other children out.  However, if we took the time to truly listen to them, what would they tell us?

One card featured in the book says, “I wish my teacher knew that my mom might be diagnosed with cancer this week and I’ve been without a home 3 different times this year alone.” If we simply asked a child such as this one how they are doing, couldn’t we make a more positive impact?

As educators, our roles aren’t limited to “just” being a teacher: we’re a role model, a guide, a parent, safety, help, a mandated reporter, a leader, and so much more. Our hats are many and varied, and sometimes kids need something we don’t realize we should be offering.

If one of your students told you that they wished you knew “that my little brother gets scared and I get worried about getting up every night,” wouldn’t you give that child a little more leeway for being tired during the day? Would you talk with them and help them figure out strategies? Of course you would! Whether you would help isn’t the question… but how.

We all believe it is really important to understand a student on a personal level. They need to release their emotions, their views, their sweet ideas.  However, sometimes we become too judgmental and miss a lot without intending to do so.  By reminding ourselves to connect to students in a personalized and private manner, we can create a more compassionate community for learning and support. Some students are tagged as "disruptive" just because we don’t know the root cause of their problem. Unfortunately, so many of the problems our children bring into the classroom result from things teachers and students have little control over. 

Not all of the cards in the book are sad, of course. “I wish my teacher knew I love my family.” “I wish my teacher knew I want to learn more about history.” Many are sweet, endearing words that bring so much joy to a teacher’s heart.

Now that school’s back in full swing, think about building on the special relationships you have with your students. Share something personal about yourself. I bet my students would be surprised to hear about my latest mistake or the last time I felt afraid. Creating an atmosphere where students feel free to share more of themselves, giving you a deeper understanding of those precious souls in your care, can lead to a more enriching experience for all. 

So the next time you step into your classroom, before you tackle fractions, history, or the vocabulary word of the day, consider asking your students this simple question: What would I be surprised to know about you?

Giving Back with a Back to School Bash

Here at Pass the Apple, we try to find ways to give back to teachers who put so much of their heart and soul into their classrooms. Of course, the main way that we do that is through our online marketplace. We help teachers earn back money for supplies they no longer need while, at the same time, making those supplies more affordable for the next generation of teachers.

Teachers who are dedicated and innovative give their students the best possible learning environments. So really, by helping teachers we’re trying to help the students who rely on them, too.

This summer, we were looking for churches and community groups that do community outreach to help local children. Then one day we were contacted by, Out of Love Ministries in Atlanta, GA. We recently partnered with them for a Back to School Bash which provided inner city kids with much-needed school supplies and a bagged lunch. Out of Love Ministries is a new church in Northeast Atlanta, always looking for ways to help serve the community. It was a blessing for Pass the Apple to help such a wonderful ministry. You can learn more about the Out of Love Ministries and make a donation on their website here. Pastor Foster is doing amazing work! 

July 30, 2016-Out of Love Ministries preparing to bless the inner city of Atlanta with food, school supplies, and love:-)

If you have a community project or a classroom project that we might be able to help with, we’d love to hear from you. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and we want to be part of your village. We’re open to supporting projects from religious groups, schools, city councils, as well as individual parents and teachers. Send us an email -- we’d love to talk to you!

At Pass the Apple, we strive to make a positive impact and aim to give back. We recently had the great privilege of teaming up with Out of Love Ministries. The group held a Back to School Bash and we provided discounted school supplies which were given out to inner city children in Atlanta, GA. It was a true blessing to contribute. If you'd like to learn more about this cause, please visit:

 

Don’t forget that we also partner with DonorsChoose.org to support the projects of our Pass the Apple community. If you have a project in need of support, we’d love to hear about it. Or, if you want to support other teacher’s projects, simply round up your purchases on Pass The Apple to the next dollar. Those leftover cents will be collected and donated to a worthy Pass the Apple member's project.

We’re always looking for ways to better support both teachers and their students. That’s how we... Pass the Apple!

 

Appreciating Our Hero Teachers

The purpose of The Apple Seed is to provide educators with regular doses of inspiration, humor, and survival tips. I know firsthand just how easy it can be to get worn down in this job, and what a big impact a few comforting words can have.

When I was first  starting out as a teacher in Tennessee, I remember spending all day and much of the night setting up my new classroom. My husband and daughters were at home, wondering what was taking me so long. That’s when a very friendly building custodian named Ms. Judy came by my classroom and pointed something out to me.  She said, “Teaching can be hard on marriages.” That’s not something they tell you when you’re training to be an educator, but I found it to be very true. To this day, that little bit of wisdom always reminds me to balance the priorities of both my classroom and my home.

Hero Teachers – Sister Sheila – First Grade, St. Rose of Lima, Rockaway Beach, NY

Teacher Appreciation Week recently ended, so I thought this would be an ideal time to reflect and begin our Hero Teacher Series. We all have teachers that influence and inspire us. Our first hero featured on The Apple Seed comes from my childhood: my first grade teacher, Sister Sheila.

Sister Sheila was a firm but loving teacher who had a great deal of respect for her students. I remember one day sneakily ripping a page out of my math workbook and then telling Sister Sheila that it was “missing” in an attempt to avoid doing any more addition practice.

Sister Sheila could have embarrassed me or yelled at me, but instead she simply went to the trash can, discreetly retrieved my “missing” page, and quietly asked, “Is this what you’re missing?”

At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but that benevolent moment stuck with me when I started teaching. Sister Sheila showed me just how important it is to always treat students with the grace and respect that all people deserve, regardless of their age or behavior.  My actions as a teacher - good or bad -  could stay with a student forever and I am so grateful for that lesson.

Thank you, Sister Sheila, from reading this sweet note from one of my students I think I'm on the right track:) 

Who are the teacher heros that have influenced you?  Leave a comment here, we'd loved to hear about them.  

Happy Teaching!

Yolanda Terry

 

 

Welcome to Pass the Apple

At Pass the Apple, our main goal is simple: to connect educators with the teaching supplies they need to have more balanced classrooms across the country. However, our goal extends far beyond helping teachers find tangible education materials like big books and whiteboards. We think it’s also very important to connect educators with reputable resources that include practical tips and tools from experienced educators who know what it’s like on the front lines of teaching. With our blog, officially named The Apple Seed, our hope is to make it easier for teachers to do their jobs well, because we understand just how tough this job can be and what high standards educators have for themselves. Beyond helping you find the educational supplies you need to run your classroom, we also want to provide you with ideas, motivation, techniques, and tools to help you make the most of the resources that you have available. We’ll also feature a new teacher every week on the Apple Seed, sharing the teacher’s unique story, photos, and more. Some topics that we intend to cover in our blog include:

  • Organizational ideas and strategies
  • Tips for surviving the first year of teaching
  • How to maintain a good work/life balance
  • Strategies for dealing with common teaching struggles, such as challenging students
  • Advice on handling difficult parent-teacher conferences
  • Creative ways to stretch your budget to its limits
  • Effective classroom management
  • And much, much more…

Reinvigorating and Inspiring Passion for Teaching

The sad truth is that about half of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Some teachers go in expecting to only teach for a couple of years, like those who participate in Teach For America. Yet, many more young teachers come in with a passion for teaching and a real desire to help improve the lives of their students. Unfortunately, this passion has a tendency to get flattened due to a lack of support, impossible expectations, and limited resources.

As an educator myself, I believe that the best and most reliable resource that teachers have today is other teachers. It is vitally important that we share our experiences, our trials, and our triumphs in order to help teach one another what we’ve learned and inspire one another to do our best in this most humbling and honorable of professions.

As you use this site to find new classroom and homeschool materials, we hope that you will keep in mind all the people who have used these materials before you and the experiences they have to share. We sincerely hope that this will become a community of educators dedicated not just to making teaching materials available to one another, but making their wisdom and inspiration available to one another, as well.

Please check back regularly for more advice and encouragement, and share this resource with your teaching friends. Together, we can make it easier to enjoy the vast rewards of teaching by collaborating and sharing our unique experiences.

Also, if you have any great suggestions for blog topics or themes you’d like us to cover, please leave a comment below. We’re always open to new ideas as we hope to make this blog a leading resource for educators across the country.