During times of uncertainty, crisis, concern and confusion, students often look to their teachers for guidance about things that can expand outside of the classroom.
For NeBia Satterfield, being an educator wasn’t what she planned to do, but things changed for her in college.
Now, five years later, she can’t imagine doing anything else.
Satterfield is making the world a better place, one classroom at a time.
“Every little thing can make a difference to children.” Satterfield said. “Especially ... everything that we’re enduring during the pandemic is taking it to a higher level.”
For her, teachers have a strong perspective on what students need to succeed in class and in life.
It’s also important for teachers to know what frustrates kids in order to make a difference, especially for students who come from vulnerable or low-income families.
“You never want to see a child lose their smile or ... self-confidence. You always want the children to feel like they are a part of the group,” she said.
The classroom often becomes a safe place where dedicated educators quickly have to pivot from teaching to mentoring and advocacy.
For students of low-income families, not having adequate school supplies can drastically change their trajectory for a successful future.
“I do whatever it takes. If you need an extra notebook, book bag, clothes, whatever is necessary for that child to feel OK in the classroom,” Satterfield said. “Kids may not have pencils or crayons at home. I’ve had students that have worn the same outfit two or three times in a whole week because that’s all they have.”
Pencils, paper, notebooks and anything related to learning — sometimes, even clothing and toiletries — are some of the things teachers will dip into their own wallets to buy for students in need.
On average, teachers spend $1,000 on school supplies every year.
“If it’s something that’s financial, the child already knows and has that feeling from their home situation,” she said. “But coming to school, that’s supposed to be their safe place, so to keep that balance I do whatever it takes.”
With a difficult past year and the economic downturn, families will find it even more difficult to access supplies for their kids to complete their school year and not fall behind.
Thankfully, for some teachers, there is a place where they receive donated school supplies.
Classroom Central’s Free Store is a retail operation where teachers and other school personnel from eligible schools shop for free supplies throughout the academic year.
“Classroom Central is a great community support for teachers and makes a difference. For a teacher who is beginning, you don’t have the money to put materials in your classroom,” she said. “So having Classroom Central there to support those begging teachers or help you find materials makes a big difference.”
All materials distributed are used to create inviting learning environments and to support the academic and personal growth of students whose families lack the resources needed to purchase school supplies.
Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.
Covering 22 counties, 9 School Tools is the largest school-supply drive in the Carolinas and will run from now through Aug. 31.
“Even if it’s just a pack of pencils or a note to the kids — ‘try your best to follow your dreams’ — it goes a long way, a very long way,” Satterfield said. “We want to give kids the things and the tools that they need to succeed. It makes a huge difference.”
You can donate the school supplies at any Arby’s, Ashley HomeStore, E.R. Plumbing Services and Charlotte Fire Department stations.
Financial donations can also be made to the 9 School Tools program that supports Classroom Central.
Learn more about 9 School Tools at www.9SchoolTools.com.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, public affairs manager at WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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