We have awarded 20 standout teachers $5,000 in Staples® Gift Cards to help stock up their classroom. To see their reactions upon recieving the awards, watch this video.
Looking back, every student can pinpoint at least one teacher who has helped to shape them into the person they are today. From the career they chose to their interests and the way they treat people; teachers are to thank for many life achievements beyond academic success. That’s why it’s so important that we take time out of our day to thank our teachers and acknowledge the true impact that they’ve had on the lives of all of their students.
This year, with schools across the country having to abruptly shift how and where they learn, teacher appreciation has taken on a whole new meaning. Back in July, the team at Staples US Retail put out a call for nominations for our #ThankATeacher contest, asking parents, teachers and students to nominate a teacher who has made an impact on their life. The number of stories we received about teachers bending over backwards to make sure their students are happy and successful during this challenging year is a testament to their hard work and dedication.
Each #ThankATeacher nomination put the teacher’s school in the running to win $5K in school supplies for their classroom. A team of judges carefully reviewed each submission, and the above and beyond acts of 20 teachers across the country stood out as winners. Here are just a few of the many heartwarming stories we heard from the nominators, principals and colleagues about our 2020 #ThankATeacher contest winners.
Sarah Norton, Saddlewood Elementary School
Mrs. Norton has gone above and beyond for Charlie and all of her students. Charlie has cancer and became blind from a tumor relapse this February. Mrs. Norton has been a fierce advocate for Charlie. Due to COVID, the normal services for Charlie's loss of sight were not available. So Mrs. Norton volunteered to teach her summer school in our home, organized fundraisers, and trained her own therapy dog to assist Charlie. She has given Charlie as much of a normal childhood as she can.
Melissa Rojas, Fontana High School
When Melissa Roja’s high school seniors missed their prom due to COVID-19 restrictions, she took it upon herself to hand deliver chocolate covered strawberries to each of their homes. When graduation was missed, she made them all gift bags to celebrate and took the time to hand deliver each and every one!
Stephanie Ryan, Academy of Excellence South
When COVID-19 hit, Miss Stephanie raised her hand to teach over 100 students virtually and created an engaging and inviting learning environment for all of her learners. She had to overcome even greater obstacles as she worked with many economically disadvantaged and ELL students. These problems were magnified in a virtual setting. She had to help students learn how to use technology that they had never used (some had never used a computer before), and find a way to convey lessons in a meaningful way that could be understood by those whose first language was not English. She patiently worked with families, constantly contacting them to ensure the students would receive the education they needed during what was already a hectic time.
Danielle Howard, Dr. Owen L. Knox Elementary School
During the pandemic, Ms. Daniel Howard visited some of her student’s homes to surprise them with balloons and prizes to let them know they’ve won exceptional student awards. She is smart and compassionate and truly gives her students a quality education.
Stefanie Clark, Oakfield-Alabama Elementary School
Mrs. Stefanie Clark, 1st grade teacher at Oakfield-Alabama Elementary School in Oakfield, NY, is an excellent educator, most deserving of the Staples #ThankATeacher #Contest. During distance learning, Mrs. Clark held individual online literacy lessons weekly with each of her young readers, encouraging and ensuring their continuous growth. A real superhero at the school, Mrs. Clark distributed grab-and-go meals and held special virtual events during the closure - Fort-nite Party & Halloween Costume Party (build your own fort / dress up & enjoy a bedtime story). Mrs. Clark definitely embodies the phrase, "When you can't find the sunshine, be the sunshine."
Vanessa N. Cook, Alvina Elementary School
Ms. Vanessa Cook approached local organizations to donate backpacks for students who could not afford them in her school district. During remote learning, she designed a fun online “Price is Right” game that included math, problem solving and prizes.
Ashley Fregoe, Brushton-Moira Central School
Despite all of the challenges online teaching has presented, Mrs. Fregoe never fails to start the class with a smile on her face. She goes out of her way to help parents navigate their way through online classes.
Erin Anderson, Westlake Hills Elementary School
Miss Anderson mailed her students handwritten cards of encouragement during distance learning and checked in via voicemail messages. She sent each student a cutout of herself to take pictures with like Flat Stanley to send to her to stay in touch. She provides unforgettable experiences for her students, like when she turned her classroom into Jurassic Park.
Jenna Perro, Oak Street Elementary School
Every day during quarantine, Mrs. Perro went above and beyond to find ways to check in daily with each student. She helped return a smile to one of her student’s faces who was struggling and made it so she no longer dreaded coming to school each day. Her students and their parents will be forever grateful!
Todd Silvius, Sixth Grade Center, Quakertown Community School
Todd Silvius is always doing what he can to adapt to new circumstances and ignite passion in his students. He worked tirelessly to create a virtual learning environment that would spark creativity and learning, and even created a way for his band to perform virtually together, complete with a curtain call.
Melanie Curro, Girls Prep Bronx Elementary School
When learning shifted to online, Ms. Melanie Curro created and shared “How To” videos to help parents and students navigate the new technology. She held Zoom 1-on-1 meetings as well as class instruction. She researched and shared links to interactive resources that helped students with their studies and their emotional well-being. This year, she welcomed her new class by creating and sending Flat Teacher (inspired by Flat Stanley - printed and laminated at Staples) to each student.
Monica Ciofalo, Edwin M. Wells Middle School
Monica worked with her school district to ensure all students had access to the remote learning supplies they needed to succeed. She went above and beyond to make sure all of her students in her classes were able to thrive remotely.
Melanie Tard, Trenton's Ninth Grade Academy
Mrs. Tard delivered 44 care packages to student’s homes so they would have all of the supplies they needed to continue learning online. She maintains an open dialogue with her students and parents, many whom speak different languages, and remains available for her students whenever they need her.
Cory Anne Harris, Hawthorn School
Cory Harris spent her summer volunteering to make sure that her kids had sack lunches during these difficult times. She even hosted a special Christmas party with games, movies, refreshments and crafts for her class. When she sees a child in need, she will help immediately.
Andre J. Ellis, JP McCaskey High School
Andre Ellis, known as Mr. Ellis the Teacher, is an amazing human being and teacher. He uses his time, talents and money to fund hours of math enrichment, using multiplying as his vehicle. He teaches multiplication facts to children using media platforms. He has an abundance of energy that can be seen not only during the school year, but into times that school isn’t in session.
Diane Biere, Hastings Middle School
Empowered. This is how kids and staff feel when they leave Mrs. Biere’s classroom. She empowers everyone who she comes into contact with. It’s a gift that Mrs. Biere has. She is able to bring out the best in people, but she also knows how to empower people so that they can be the best version of themselves. Not only does she empower people at school, but she pours into students and the community in so many ways. She has been a sponsor for a poetry club and has worked long days and had poetry meetings outside of school hours and has done so with a willing, positive spirit and with zero pay. In the spring when our middle school shut down due to COVID she provided food for students and their families and she dropped off end of the year gifts to them as well. She volunteered at the middle school garden and spent countless hours over the summer planning and teaching migrant students. Mrs. Biere doesn’t do all of these things to be recognized and in fact many people probably aren’t aware of all the things she does out of the spotlight. She is making a difference in the school and community and deserves to be recognized for all that she does.
Deni Drinkwater, Edison Regional Gifted Center
In a school district lacking in arts education, Ms. Deni Drinkwater goes above and beyond proving enrichment and inspiration for her students. Ms. Drinkwater merges art and music to create thematic units that explore and develop different themes, historic periods and cultures. Kids have studied opera and musicals, then written and performed their own; studied romantic, Asian, and Egyptian art and so much more. They have made stop motion films and sculptures.
Peter Dominick Mireles, Central Dauphin Middle School
Peter Dominick Mireles taught for over 15 years while also serving our country in the 193rd SOW national guard. While school was in session (in person) he offered tutoring after school free of charge and puts in hours helping the Nutripak program which provides food for families in need in his district. He personally took supplies and materials to families and students in need. When distance learning began, Peter ensured that his students had as much normalcy as possible and began his Zoom lessons with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag using a virtual flag background on his computer. His passion is teaching and his students. He works tirelessly so that they may be successful!
Shona Moore, Trinity Christian School
Mrs. Moore goes above and beyond her duties every day. For example, she developed an economy. Each child has a role such as a banker, law enforcement or clerk. They earn Moore dollars and she provides a Moore store to buy things, which helps them to manage money and offers ways to earn money. Kids will also be fined if work is incomplete, they are disruptive in class, or staying off task.
Leticia Gonzalez, Clemente Martinez Elementary School
Year after year, Mrs. Gonzalez provides her students with welcome kits, goodbye gifts and goodies in between. She takes time to visit parents and students to see if they need assistance and spends money out of her own pocket to make sure students are taken care of.
Thank you to those who took the time to nominate their teachers, and for everything you do to give your students a wonderful education.
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