It all started after the Florida school shootings in February of 2018. The tragedy rarely left my mind from the moment I heard the news.
The magnitude of such horror on a gigantic scale was hard to comprehend. I thought of how inconceivably terrible it was for everyone involved. I watched the news with a heavy heart regarding the needless destruction of young lives. In the midst of the chaos, I heard many compelling stories. There was a courageous teacher, Scott Beigel, who gave his life to protect his students.
Then I watched a father’s heartbreak as he addressed Congress about his little girl that would never come home. And of course, there was much talk about the students, as there should have been. It was unimaginably horrifying for these young people.
Suddenly I thought of the Teachers in that school, and then ALL Teachers everywhere.
Our teachers go to work daily in an environment where violence could break out at any time. They are expected to protect their students and do their jobs, cheerfully and courageously, while always being prepared for potential violence, danger, and a variety of emergencies. How horrifying it must be for Teachers everywhere to see such shocking news and know it could happen at their schools next.
I wanted to do something. I texted the Teachers I knew and asked them to send me a list of things they needed or desired for their classrooms. When I received these lists, I sent them items from Amazon.com to show my appreciation for their dedication. They all responded by thanking me and telling me how encouraging it was to receive these items. I have always believed that people helping people is the best way. I think too often people think someone else will help, or that there’s a group or entity to provide for any given situation. So often I want to help, but I don’t know how.
Sitting in my living room on February 27, thinking about all the other Teachers that I didn’t know and couldn’t send anything to, I realized that there are probably many people just like me. People who want to help but don’t know how. Sometimes the idea of giving to an organization is less than satisfying to me because I’m not sure how my donations are being used, and I imagine that others feel the same way. Then it hit me. The idea of a Facebook page to connect Teachers with other people like myself who wanted to reach out and help and encourage a Teacher suddenly popped into my head. The name “Help A Teacher” seemed simple and straightforward. And within 30 minutes I had created the Facebook Page: Help a Teacher.
I genuinely believe with all my heart that the Lord gave me the idea for Help a Teacher. Creating this page was very much out of my comfort zone. I had never started a Facebook “page” before and am a relatively private person. It was a labor of love and a big step for me!
The Help A Teacher Page started slowly at first. I created a few posts. Then I paid Facebook to promote the page to attract Teachers’ attention and inspire them to post a list of what they needed for their classrooms. It didn’t take long for teachers to notice. When they started responding and sharing what they needed, I was so excited! I would buy the items and send a note that said, “Help A Teacher.” I also asked Teachers to post pictures of their gifts so other people could see what I was doing. I kept doing this for a couple of weeks. Several Teachers posted, and the page began to attract some interest. When the page “likes” hit 100, I celebrated. It felt amazing. When someone other than me bought a gift for a teacher, I cried because my heart was so happy. Maybe, just maybe, this could make a difference in the lives of a few Teachers!
Not knowing much about Facebook, I called my niece, Jennifer Brooks, with questions. I knew she already had a business operating on Facebook and thought she might be able to answer my questions. She did much more than that–she offered to help! And help she has since that first conversation. Jennifer has worked tirelessly on the page, answering questions, sharing posts and assisting me with many issues. Her mom is a Teacher’s Assistant, so she understood what Teachers went through. Amazon wishlists were new to me until Jennifer introduced the concept to the page. It has been a fantastic way to communicate and purchase needs for a Teacher. Her help has been invaluable! In her own life, she truly embodies the concept of Help a Teacher. She freely gives of her time and her energy to Help A Teacher, serving Teachers.
Randal Brooks is my brother and is an amazingly, successful businessman. I contacted him about the page also, so that he could look and give me his thoughts. He was immediately drawn to the page too and began filling people’s lists. He was shocked at the need of Teachers. His daughter is a Teacher also, so he also had some knowledge of what Teachers are expected to provide. He began conversing and talking with Teachers, filling Amazon wishlists right and left. He was the first one to see that this page might have the potential to grow beyond what we imagined. He encouraged and supported the page from the conception. His heart knows no bounds on what he will do to help others, and he has been tireless in his efforts to answer questions and encourage Teachers on this page. He is our business manager, our CEO, and will be diligently working to help Teachers.
So now you know, here we are. Many people have joined us since that time, most on a volunteer basis. We have Teachers, business people, stay at home moms, and many other professions that are giving of their time because they want to Help a Teacher.
We are Help A Teacher. You are Help A Teacher. It is a community built on caring and a desire to help others in which we are all participants.
It is very simple. This page has one purpose, to Help A Teacher. We all arrived here in different ways, we each have a story, but we are all dedicated to continuing to Help A Teacher, both on the page and in life.
We thank each of you for your service, for your dedication, for your willingness to endure the hard parts to achieve the goal of educating our youth. We see Teachers reaching out to other Teachers, sending gifts. We see conversations where Teachers are encouraging and lifting up other Teachers. We are grateful to you, Teachers of America. You may never see the results of what you do, but you are teaching the adults of the future. You are shaping them and guiding them on how to think and how to learn. As my husband often says, it’s not what you know but that you know where to find what you need to know. Your job, your mission as teachers, is to equip young minds to seek and value knowledge.
Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for teaching, for helping us grow this page and in the process encourage and lift up Teachers across the nation.