Ripple Effect: A Virtual Connection Delivers
It all started with a Facebook post: a teacher making a career change was selling her school supplies.
Family friend Jordan Norenberg saw the post. The Alverno Student Government (ASG) representative recalled the anonymous requests ASG had received to help Education students acquire classroom supplies for student teaching.
Through a Facebook comment, Norenberg, a Psychology major, asked the family friend if ASG could purchase her supplies for Alverno students completing their student-teaching requirements. She explained that, like classroom teachers, teacher candidates often must bring their own supplies.
Alverno intentionally places our teacher candidates in high-needs urban schools. Though excellent places for learning how to succeed in underserved environments, these schools often have little or no budget for school supplies — and neither do their students.
“Because we encourage students to teach the Alverno way, they buy more supplies. They want to provide their students with active experiences,” says Randa Suleiman, assistant professor of Education. “For students who are teaching full-time but not drawing a salary, the cost of those school supplies can be a struggle.”
Enter Meegan Collins, a 1996 alumna and teacher in the Lake Mills, Wis., school district, who saw Norenberg’s Facebook request.
“I’m in my 21st year of teaching, but I remember those days of not knowing what to expect when you arrive in the classroom,” Collins says. “I remember sitting at that empty desk that the cooperating teacher gives you. I wanted to alleviate some of that anxiety and encourage these future teachers.”
The three Alverno women soon connected virtually. Suleiman created an online wish list for nine teacher candidates and shared it with Collins. The wish list included items such as flip chart paper, dry erase markers, crayons, markers for grading and Post-It notes.
“The list included the supplies I use every day, and I thought, ‘Alverno’s still teaching the same way,’” says Collins, who shared the list with her teacher friends in the Lake Mills area (located between Madison and Milwaukee).
Within a few weeks, she had a box of supplies to fulfill nearly all of the student requests.
“It didn’t feel like I did much. My hope was just that as the Alverno students used these supplies, they would be reminded there are other teachers out there who believe in them and what they are doing,” Collins says.
For recipient Jamie Forner, an Early Childhood Education major who completed her student teaching at Woodrow Wilson Elementary in June, the gesture went beyond donating classroom supplies.
“It felt really good to know that someone understood the pressures we face during this challenging time of student teaching,” she says. “It was an acknowledgement of what we are doing and that our giver appreciates that what we’re doing is difficult. It was so much more than the gift itself.”
This article originally appeared in the fall 2018 issue of Alverno Magazine.
Do you know a member of the Alverno community whose small gesture has had a ripple effect on others? Would you like to get involved in providing supplies to Alverno’s education majors? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.