Help a Teacher (And Their Students) Get Ready for School

Even in a regular school year, teachers spend, on average, about $600 of their own money to augment what their students need to learn.

But now, during a pandemic, those needs are different and sometimes bigger. Students who didn’t attend in person last year will need help adjusting. Some students fell very behind last year — some schools saw a 12-18% decrease in math skills and a 6-10% decrease in literacy achievement last year, and only 60% of students met state standards, compared to 75% in 2019. 

There will probably be disruptions as new variants of COVID make their way through the community — especially in schools where the largest parts of the student population are not old enough to be vaccinated yet.

Those needs will now comingle with all the usual needs — extra school supplies, programs and training that can’t be addressed in school budgets, materials that could really help a student grasp a concept but are not funded.

As we mentioned earlier, North Dallas Shared Ministries needs volunteers Saturday to help distribute school supplies. And the Dallas ISD Homeless Education Program has an ongoing Amazon wish list of needs.

(Read: Dallas ISD Assists Homeless Students, Families)

But there are more ways to help, too.  

For instance, United to Learn, a Dallas-based nonprofit that partners with Dallas ISD elementary schools, kicked off its fifth annual Learning Launch campaign this week, with its first presenting partner ever, Atmos Energy.

“United to Learn is the heart of grassroots education advocacy in Dallas. With programs like Learning Launch, U2L steps in to fill the gaps that we cannot fill and ensures that we are equipped to bring the very best to our learning communities,” Walnut Hill Elementary Principal Phillip Potter said. “Moreover, U2L has partnered with us to think of innovative ways to strengthen our instruction program and support learning in a way that is truly caring and innovative.”

The organization doesn’t just provide school supplies, either. They work with school leaders to address the specific needs of teachers, providing things like leveled libraries (Nathan Adams and McShan elementaries will be getting one, U2L president Carol Goglia told us), language lab audio kits, social and emotional support resources, and math skill games.

Last year’s drive raised $242,240 and provided almost 6,000 teacher-requested resources to 47 partner elementary schools (this year it’s 49). You can read more about their efforts in our interview with Goglia in our September issue of Preston Hollow People.

“Partners like United to Learn are what make Dallas a great place to be. They are taking care of our students and teachers so the next generation has what it needs to be prepared, healthy, and can flourish,” Oric Walker, vice president of public affairs for Atmos Energy said. “Our partnership with United to Learn extends our commitment to making a difference in the lives of students by providing teachers with tools and resources to improve the learning environment in Dallas area schools.”

(Read: United To Learn Rolls Sleeves Up for Dallas ISD Schools)

Donations to United to Learn of more than $500 by Sept. 1 will include tickets to the second annual Back to School Learning Launch Fiesta. This year’s event is chaired by Lindsay Billingsley and co-hosted by Katie Aisner, Flauren Bender, and Margaret Hirsch and will be held on Sept. 9 at Greenway Parks.

Donations of any amount will help fulfill teachers’ wish lists. They can be made at www.unitedtolearn.org/learninglaunch through September 24.

Want to do even more? Goglia said in addition to money, they need volunteers.

“The other thing that we are really needing is more dedicated volunteers for every elementary school campus,” she said. “We have about 50 now, and we need about 15 more.”

Goglia also said they are always looking for organizations, clubs, companies, and even individuals to partner with for volunteer opportunities, too.

Still want to do a little more? Here is a list of DonorsChoose campaigns from Preston Hollow area teachers.

(See: Getting Schooled on Neighborhoods)

Nathan Adams Elementary

Mrs. Johnson

Degolyer Elementary

Mrs. Riley-Caraway

Franklin International Exploratory Academy

Kramer IB World School

Maple Lawn Elementary

Marsh Preparatory Academy

Medrano Middle School

Pershing Elementary

Mrs. Winegard

Prestonwood Montessori at E.D. Walker

Mrs. Braun (who also has campaigns here and here)

Sudie Williams Talented and Gifted

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at [email protected].

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