“Supporting Teachers with #PointsforTeachers”
As a children’s author and literacy advocate, I am a huge supporter of helping teachers succeed in the classroom. Last summer, while trolling on Twitter one night, I discovered a grassroots movement gaining momentum on social media. A young teacher in Texas, tired of having to spend money out of her own pocket to provide basic classroom supplies for her classroom had come up with the idea of posting her Amazon wishlist on social media, asking other teachers to help fund it and inviting them to do the same thing. This effort became known as #clearthelists and thousands of teachers began posting their lists and buying items off each other’s lists. A single book sent here, a box of colored pencils there. The simple joy they felt at empowering themselves to solve this problem by helping fellow teachers spread like wildfire and it quickly became a movement. I found one of these lists that night and bought the teacher a few items, quickly tweeted them back, and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up to hundreds of replies to my tweet from teachers all over the country. We quickly put our heads together at Rise Up, the literacy foundation I founded in 2008, and agreed we should try to help as many teachers as we could. Using humorous tweets, I quickly became known as the #gifqueen, and by the time fall had settled in, we had helped fund over 500 teacher wish lists.
After engaging with so many teachers on social media, I’ve come to see the many fundamental needs that go unfulfilled, and their determined passion to find a way to help their students. Teachers spend on average $400-$600 out of their own pockets to provide basic classroom supplies for their students ranging from pencils, dry erase markers, colored paper to glue sticks— a fact which is both heart wrenching and hard to fathom in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Teacher’s lists are never ending because every year, the supplies are used up, and the needs start all over again. It’s not only tight school district budgets that make classroom funding sparse, but many low-income families are unable to afford the necessary school supplies for their children which means they show up to school without pencils or paper, putting the burden on the teacher to provide them with the tools they need. It’s easy to argue that it’s not their job but tell that to the teacher who’s heart breaks because her student doesn’t own a pencil. Replacing books is even harder with very few dollars allotted toward classroom libraries.
Since the global pandemic struck, we’ve seen a surge in requests for pandemic-related Back To School needs with teachers asking for remote learning tools such as document cameras and new laptops. Classroom needs are changing as well with a need for individualized containers to keep students supplies separate, along with increased sanitation supplies, face masks, hand sanitizer—all this is on top of their normal requirements. We at Rise Up tried to think of new ways to engage and help teachers meet the challenges ahead. I realized I had an enormous stockpile of unused credit card reward points sitting around that could easily be converted into Amazon dollars. Using reward points is easy on Amazon—all you have to do is register your participating rewards credit card—American Express, Citibank, Chase, and Discover are just a few they accept—and when you get to check out, you simply choose “use reward points” and the points value is deducted off your total. This inspired us to expand our efforts to help teachers clear their lists with a movement we call #PointsForTeachers. The goal is to educate individuals who would like to help but maybe don’t know how they can make an impact. We hope to encourage them to look at those unused reward points that are sitting idle on their credit card statements and reach out and find a teacher to help. It’s super simple and easy to make a big impact. All you have to do is follow these steps:
- Register your card on Amazon at amazon.com/shopwithpoints.
- Search for a teacher to help on Twitter using #pointsforteachers or #clearthelists.
- Shop for items on the teacher’s list.
- Use your points to pay at checkout!
To kick the program off we pledged 1 million reward points toward teacher’s wish lists. To date we’ve helped almost 200 teacher’s get back to school with essential items and we have many more to go before we run out of points. In addition, we registered with JustGiving so that individuals can donate their points directly to the Rise Up Foundation to help us supply classrooms. To donate your points, just go to JustGiving.com and search for Rise Up Foundation.
With everything that is asked of teachers during these challenging times, now more than ever, they need our support to get them the items they need to make a difference in the lives of their students. Won’t you join us in making a difference in the life of a teacher and their classroom today?
Witches of Orkney #3: Witch Wars
Expected Publication October 13th, 2020 by SparkPress
About the Book: Abigail’s second year at the Tarkana Academy has been an all-out disaster. She’s just unwittingly helped Vertulious, an ancient he-witch and powerful alchemist, destroy Odin’s Stone and restore his powers, and now all of Orkney is caught up in the threat of war as the witches prepare to destroy the helpless Orkadians. Determined to set things right, Abigail and Hugo set off for Jotunheim, the land of the giants, to find a weapon to restore the balance. All they have to do is track down the God of Thunder and convince Thor to turn his hammer over to them.
When their former-friend-now-foe Robert Barconian arrives with a band of dwarves, intent on stopping them, Abigail and friends must unite to prevent a war that will destroy them all. But has Abigail made the biggest mistake of all by trusting in the wrong ally?
About the Author: Alane Adams is the author of award-winning titles that include the Legends of Orkney™ Norse mythology series for middle grade readers, the Witches of Orkney prequel series including her newest book Witch Wars out October 2020, and a series of historical picture books set in the 1920s including The Coal Thief. Alane’s newest Greek mythology series, The Legends of Olympus debuted Spring 2020 with The Eye of Zeus. Alane Adams and her books have been featured on BBC, Fox, the CW, Parade, Bustle, Today, People, and many more! When Alane is not writing or talking to kids in schools about Reading Is A Superpower, she’s out hiking somewhere in the world or hanging out with her three boys in Southern California. For more information, visit https://alaneadams.com or follow Alane on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @AlaneAdamsBooks.
About Rise Up Foundation: Rise Up Foundation strives to improve the lives of children and families living in poverty and difficult circumstances, as well as teachers and educators of young children. Rise Up supports literacy projects as a path toward improving the future prospects of children in underserved communities by making book donations, providing classroom support, and grant-making. In addition to literacy efforts, Rise Up works with organizations committed to defining and solving the problems that chronic poverty brings to children and their communities. For more information, visit https://riseupfoundation.org or follow on Facebook @Rise.Up.Foundation and on Twitter @RiseUpFdn.
Thank you, Alane, for showing how to support teachers during this tumultous times!