For 67 Chicago-area teachers, Tuesday, October 1 was an extraordinary school day, with representatives from OfficeMax surprising them with $1,000 in new school supplies for their classrooms.
Created in 2007, the company’s “A Day Made Better” program recognizes and rewards the great work of teachers by providing them with the supplies that they and their students need to be successful. The donation includes classroom essentials like notebooks, folders and crayons, as well as fun add-ons like a new desk chair, a digital camera, and in 2013, a Kindle Fire.
Among this year’s winners was Nancy Solayman, a 4th-grade teacher at Bateman Elementary School in Albany Park.
“I was at a loss for words when they came to my room,” said Nancy. “I actually had goose bumps. I never expected anything like this, but it’s wonderful. I’m so grateful, blessed and happy to be working with these kids every day.”
Bateman principal Patrick Baccelieri nominated Nancy because of her consistent enthusiasm for teaching and her reputation for being both a team leader and a team player.
“Nancy gives 200% every day to help move her students forward,” he said, “and she lends the same level of support to the other teachers on her team.”
Betty Scalia, a language arts and humanities teacher at Mayer Elementary School, also received an “A Day Made Better” award, having been singled out by her principal as a phenomenal teacher who has the trust and respect of the entire school community.
“We have a saying around our school when challenges come up,” said Mayer Principal Katherine Konieczny. “WWBD…What Would Betty Do. That’s how confident Betty’s colleagues are in her judgment.”
A Nationally Board Certified Teacher and Golden Apple recipient, Betty has been a teacher at Mayer for nearly 20 years. She is known for her child-centered philosophy, her tough but endearing teaching style, and her remarkable ability to assess her students, particularly those with special needs.
“Betty really knows and understands her students,” said Principal Konieczny. “She can speak in-depth about their skills and abilities, which is of enormous benefit to them along their educational path.”
Nancy and Betty were among 1,000 teachers nationwide to be nominated for OfficeMax “A Day Made Better” program, which seeks to reduce the need for teacher-funded classrooms throughout the country. In addition to the school supplies, each winning teacher received a framed certificate, and their schools were surprised with new classroom materials collected during OfficeMax’s in-store School Supply Drive. These supplies will be divided for use among all teachers at the school.
“Being a teacher is incredibly difficult these days,” said Mayer principal Katherine Konieczny. “It’s a profession of the heart that deserves recognition. But schools can’t always do it on their own, so having an event like this from OfficeMax is truly appreciated by all of our teachers, students and school communities.”