Each year, teachers throughout CPS spend hundreds of their own hard-earned dollars outfitting their classrooms with school supplies. It is one of the many ways that teachers go above and beyond to provide their students with the high-quality education they deserve. In recognition of that contribution, CPS this week partnered with OfficeMax and Chicago Bears wide-receiver Brandon Marshall to provide 100 of the District’s most outstanding teachers with $100,000 in new school supplies for their classrooms.
“On behalf of OfficeMax and our associates, it is my pleasure to make this donation to Chicago teachers in recognition of their important contributions and unyielding dedication in educating our children, Chicago’s future workforce,” said Ravi Saligram, President and CEO of OfficeMax.
The event, which was a surprise to the teachers, had been in the works for months, with CPS and OfficeMax working together to give principals the opportunity to nominate those teachers they felt were most deserving of recognition.
“Our teachers continually go above and beyond for their students, bringing in bags and bags of supplies that enhance the academic achievement in their classrooms,” said Alice Vera, principal at DeDominguez Elementary School. “This opportunity from OfficeMax gave me the chance to thank and recognize one of those many outstanding teachers.”
Nominations poured in, and principals whose teachers had been selected as winners were notified a week prior to the event. The challenge was keeping it a surprise, as the principals still had to get their winning teachers to the event without letting them know its true purpose.
“I was so proud and so excited for my teacher,” said Mitchell Elementary Principal Nicole Milberg, who nominated social studies teacher Cory Schiffern, who she says brings history to life for his 6th through 8th graders. “I couldn’t wait to see his face when he received his award.”
On the morning of January 31, 100 teachers and their principals traveled to Myra Bradwell School on the city’s south side, and heard from CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and OfficeMax President and CEO Ravi Saligram, both of whom thanked them for their extraordinary dedication to CPS students.
“You are a shining example of how Chicago teachers are deeply invested in the children of our community,” said Ravi Saligram. “You are the ones on the frontlines, educating our children - our future leaders and workforce - and helping to ensure that our great American metropolis continues to grow and prosper.
The crowd of educators was then addressed by Chicago Bears wide-receiver Brandon Marshall, who again thanked them for their commitment to the teaching of children, sharing personal experiences about the teachers who had positively impacted his life.
“The most important part of being a member of a community is about giving something back to that community,” said Marshall. “This is my chance to give back to my city in a big way and help OfficeMax continue to do the great work they’re doing to support teachers.”
That support came in the form of a donation from OfficeMax, which provided all 100 teachers with an enormous box of school supplies for their classrooms. The boxes, which weighed 70 pounds each, were stuffed with $1,000 worth of materials, including post-its, pencils, tape, glue, colored paper, digital cameras, and many other essential supplies that help teachers work more effectively. Each teacher was also given a new office chair for use in the classroom.
“It was like a dream come true,” said Nancy Sorich, a primary school teacher from Mark Twain Elementary who was nominated for her tireless pursuit of parental involvement in the education of her students. “I was thrilled. And the presentation was overwhelming.”
Staci Bennett, Principal of Bradwell School, was delighted to act as host for the event. “We were absolutely thrilled to be selected to host,” she said. “It was a great honor and privilege to play such a significant role in the recognition of such well-deserving teachers who give of themselves daily, never seeking much in return.”
Those who could hauled their windfall back to their classrooms, while others arranged for the supplies to be delivered by OfficeMax over the next few days.
“I love the camera and the laminator, but even the pencils, erasers and clipboards are just as welcome,” said Nancy Sorich. “I am very appreciative to OfficeMax and their support of CPS teachers.”
The supply donation was a part of “A Day Made Better” – a partnership between OfficeMax and AdoptAClassroom.org that seeks to eliminate the need for teacher-funded supply closets in classrooms throughout the country. A Chicago-based corporation, OfficeMax has contributed more than $20 million in grants and supplies since 2007 to support more than 30,000 teachers and their classrooms.
“This donation validates the hard work that our teachers are doing every day, ” said Principal Manda Lukic, who nominated special education teacher Kerry Rush for this honor based on Rush’s commitment to differentiated instruction, particularly as regards assessment and data collection for students with autism. “The supplies will help learning continue, and support the wonderful things that teachers are doing in their classrooms.”