Burlington, a leading national off-price retailer, teamed up with AdoptAClassroom.org this back-to-school season for the fourth consecutive year to help our nation’s teachers, who need our support now more than ever before. Since 2017, our GOLD Halo award-winning partnership with Burlington has raised more than $5.5 million to support K-12 teachers and students nationwide.
When Burlington adopted every classroom in her school this past spring, elementary school music teacher Beverly Fandrey received a $440 credit on AdoptAClassroom.org to purchase school supplies. Beverly spoke with AdoptAClassroom.org about Burlington’s donation and how her local Burlington store made a difference for her, her school, and her community.
AdoptAClassroom.org (AAC): How long have you been teaching? Where do you teach? What subject and grade level do you teach at your school?
Beverly: I have been teaching for 38 years. Most of my career has been in Washington Local Schools in Toledo, Ohio. I teach General Music to students in Grades K-6 in two different elementary schools within our district. Each week I work with approximately 650 children in my music classrooms.
AAC: Last year, your local Burlington store adopted every classroom at your school with funding for school supplies. What learning materials did you purchase with their donation?
Beverly: I was able to purchase a classroom set of ukuleles for my students to use. They have been extremely excited to use their instruments to apply many of the musical skills I am teaching them.
Some of the other teachers in my building purchased visual timers, dry erase boards, puzzles, card games, classroom library books, easy access bins for storing the books, science materials, fidgets, cushioned stools for their reading table, and graduation lanyards for our kindergarteners who missed out on their special ceremony at the end of the school year because of the shut down in March. Their parents really appreciated this special gesture!
AAC: How did it feel to have your classroom adopted by Burlington so you could purchase the materials your students needed?
Beverly: We were all sooo excited! This was a wonderful opportunity to purchase many items that enhanced classroom instruction. Often teachers pay for these items from their own personal funds to enrich their classroom instruction. We were beyond grateful to have this wonderful opportunity for our classrooms and students. These items were used this past year and will be for many years to come!
AAC: How will these instruments help your students this upcoming school year, whether you return to the classroom or continue with distance learning?
Beverly: We can definitely use the ukuleles that I purchased if we return to school in-person. I specifically chose quality instruments that can be washed/sanitized. Some of my students have their own ukuleles at home and can continue their lessons with online resources and tutorials that I record of myself, if we end up learning remotely for a portion of the school year.
Some of the other items that teachers purchased can/will be delivered to students’ homes. All of the items are much appreciated by students, parents, and teachers and will be utilized in whatever way possible for us to safely have school this year.
AAC: Have you ever had to spend your own money on school supplies for your students? How much do you spend on average, and what do you purchase?
Beverly: Every year I spend some of my own personal money on school supplies. As a music teacher, I usually purchase items that are needed for performances, such as costumes or props, as well as instruments to use in the classroom and/or for performances to help my students show what they have learned in exciting and entertaining ways.
I also purchase classroom sets of pencils, crayons, etc., and keep those supplies available for projects in our music classroom. I usually spend between $300 to $400 per year on supplies.
AAC: Did you spend your own money on supplies while teaching remotely this past school year? What did you purchase?
Beverly: I spent my own money on materials this past year during our remote lessons. We were not allowed to come back to school to get anything after we were allowed one day in March to grab what we thought we might need to teach remotely.
I purchased basic school supplies for our students who did not have the materials they needed to do their lessons at home, and small gifts/prizes to celebrate their end of the year accomplishments that we did not get to celebrate at school, such as kindergarten and sixth grade graduations, special recognitions, etc. The gifts were distributed during “car parades,” when students and parents drove by the school and the teachers stood outside with signs and waved. We also delivered them to students’ homes.
AAC: Is your school re-opening its doors at the start of the new school year or will distance learning continue? How will this school year be different from previous years?
Beverly: It is uncertain at this time whether our school will be opening in a hybrid model or if we will start out 100% remotely. The needs of our students are greater than ever with so many unemployed in our community. We are all working very hard to be aware of the students’ and their families’ social, emotional and physical needs during such unprecedented and uncertain times.
If we do go back in person this year, there will be many restrictions on the sharing of supplies. Usually in the primary grades there is a common basket at each table with the crayons, pencils, scissors, etc. that students need to complete their work. This year, each student will have to have their own supplies, and someplace to store them.
I ran into a kindergarten teacher friend in the store the other day and she was buying 25 school boxes, 25 boxes of crayons, 25 pairs of scissors, etc. with her own money to ensure that all of her students would have what they need to start the new school year.
AAC: If you continue, or have to switch back to distance learning this school year, will you and your fellow teachers still need school materials for your students? If so, what supplies will they need?
Beverly: We will most definitely need to help the families provide school supplies for their children this year. Some parents assume that if the students are doing remote learning that no school supplies will be needed. Just because the lessons are delivered remotely, does not mean the children do not need paper, pencils, pens, crayons, scissors, etc. to use in their work space to complete their assignments. We often give assignments and ask the students to have someone take a picture and email or text it to us so we can grade their project.
AAC: We surveyed teachers in June and found that 70% of teachers surveyed dropped off or mailed supplies to their students while teaching remotely. Was this the case for you and/or other teachers at your school?
Beverly: We mailed weekly packets of work to our students to complete, in addition to posting the lessons and assignments online, because some students had internet connectivity issues. In those packets, we included the materials they would need to complete the work.
If they were supposed to write a story, we included notebook paper and pens or pencils. If they were supposed to draw a picture, we included pencils and crayons. If other supplies were needed for basic experiments in science, etc. we tried to supply them or give alternatives that could be used.
Now through September 7, customers are invited to donate at check-out at one of 730+ Burlington stores nationwide. All funds raised will support K-12 teachers and benefit their students, whether they are learning in the classroom or from home.
Your dollar makes a difference. Donate today.