GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kenowa Hills Public Schools District is one of many welcoming students back to class on Tuesday. One teacher with that district is saying “thank you” for the extra help she’s been getting, sometimes from complete strangers, to fill her classroom with school supplies.
Alpine Elementary School teacher Payton Cooper says she’s been teaching since 2019, the first school year we were introduced to the COVID-19 pandemic. She says while her district is beyond supportive with providing the basics when it comes to school supplies, there are other tools that may offer to extra help to ensure students perform their best, like highlighter bookmarks to help students better focus while reading. Cooper was gifted several of these through her Amazon Wish List of classroom supplies.
“Kenowa Hills provides wonderful curriculum supplies like pencils and crayons and paper and journals and that’s the basic need. The important thing about these wish lists are these are things that create an inviting classroom environment," she said. "It’s these extra things and it’s not just fun boarders. It’s not just fun seating and it’s not just to make it look pretty. It’s to make kids feel safe.”
Many teachers have turned to these virtual school supplies wish lists, which function much like a wedding registry.
Cooper said each school year she’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, at times from people she doesn’t even know who just want to support students.
“I don’t like to ask for things. You want to do it yourself, right? But I can’t and that’s a realization I’ve had through this, is that I can’t spend all my money and as much as I would love to pour my heart out and pour my wallet out to these kids, I can’t and that’s not my job either," Cooper said. "I have a cost of living. I have needs of my own and I can’t meet the needs of my students if my needs aren’t met first.”
Even with classes already underway, you can still pitch in. You can find Cooper's wish list here. There are also wish lists for other teachers in the Kenowa Hills district, including a first-year fifth grade teacher, a music teacher and an art teacher.
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