Educating children must be a priority for helping build a better future. This is true in any part of the world -- including our own nation.
On December 6, World Vision staff drove a large trailer packed with essential educational supplies into the parking lot at Roosevelt High School in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. This mobile Teacher Resource Center is a new way World Vision is supporting teachers in under-resourced communities.
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“It’s like a candy store,” says teacher Lourdes Gutierrez, who gratefully filled her bag with teaching essentials including markers, crayons, Play-Doh®, construction paper, toys, and more.
A tough job
World Vision knows that teachers in America have a difficult but critical job. Besides the challenges of motivating and educating students against the backdrop of budget cuts and layoffs, teachers often dig deep into their own pockets to supply their classrooms.
According to a national survey, up to 97 percent of teachers spend their own money (an average of $623 per year) to supplement classroom needs.
In Boyle Heights, a community that struggles with poverty and has 15-20 active gangs, teachers are faced with an especially hard job.
“With budget cuts, I was given the classroom and nothing else,” says Lourdes Gutierrez, who runs a community preschool on the Roosevelt High School campus and teaches 120 teenagers about child development. “No money for anything.”
Layoffs have required Aleida Perez, who is in her third year of teaching at Roosevelt High School, to do the work of three teachers: teaching Spanish, math, and AVID, a college readiness program.
“When you already have a load on your shoulders, I shouldn’t have to worry about pencils,” she says. “In the middle of a lesson, students will raise their hand and say, ‘Miss, do you have a pencil?’”
Aleida estimates she spends $300 a year buying the bare minimum for her classroom. Students at her school often come to class with nothing.
But on this day, Aleida, Lourdes, and nearly 200 teachers walked back to their classrooms with bags full of supplies and unstoppable smiles.
“It wasn’t in their imagination to see a truck like this come here,” says José Magana, a World Vision staff member in east Los Angeles. “We see a lot of teachers in tears. By World Vision coming here with these supplies, it’s a blessing.”
As they moved through the trailer, one teacher exclaims, “This is fun!” Another teacher says, “Here’s my Christmas shopping.” One after another, teachers simply say, “Thank you, thank you.”
Thanks to support from generous donors, this year, World Vision’s mobile Teacher Resource Center is able to provide vital educational resources, free of charge, to 47 schools and 1,757 teachers throughout Southern California. Beyond that, there is another mobile Teacher Resource Center in Dallas and one planned for Appalachia.
Andrea Peer is a writer, photographer and editor for World Vision.
Make a one-time donation to help provide school supplies right here in the United States. Many schools serving low-income neighborhoods are in great need of basics like books, videos, pens, pencils, crayons, educational games, sports equipment, and more. Thanks to corporate donations, your gift will be worth 12 times its face value.