The following was my first ever post for Readers Helping Teachers. As bloggers, readers, and just people wanting to help, together we were able to raise 40 copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic for Andi’s students in Las Vegas. Please read her story about how she has struggled as a teacher in a school district that is a victim of budget cuts and how we were able to help her.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling to provide books to students or children in their classroom, please feel free to contact me at KPeterson320@yahoo.com to learn more about how Readers Helping Teachers can work with you to get the books you need in order to enlighten our next generation.
Readers Helping Teachers
UPDATE: Andi has reached 40 copies! Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has helped to make this possible!
Today marks a very important day in my blogging history to date (although my history really is not that long). Today is my first ever feature of Readers Helping Teachers. This feature is designed to promote teachers, librarians, assistants, and other people who are trying to help make their communities a better place for the next generation. In today’s economy, many schools are struggling to buy books for their students, including regular English class classic novels. There are even some schools that don’t have libraries for students to sit and work, research papers, use computers, and print necessary materials. Many public libraries are being shut down or are forced to cut back on their book intake. We are all struggling in some way or another and the generation that is paying for it are the children who are growing up now without easy access to necessary materials and the books we all grew up and fell in love with.
After becoming a part of this wonderful bookish blogging community through bloglovin’, twitter, instagram, and so much more, I’ve seen the hearts that many people in this world hold. Those of us here have good hearts. We’re good people trying to make a difference in the world and working everyday to get our voices heard and to help each other. I’d never met people like all of you before I created my twitter account that lovely day in January and became a part of OTSP Secret Sister. The rest is history. I gained friends willing to go to extremes in order to help me. I’ve met ladies who talk to me everyday, good or bad, whining or squeeling, just trying to build a connection with me that lasts. I’ve had the extreme pleasure of unofficially and officially meeting so. many. wonderful. people. through this community. I’m sure that all of you can understand why I felt the need to create this feature when my friend Andi tweeted something that caught my eye on Monday…
Andi Strube is a wonderful person. She was one of the first OTSP Secret Sisters who I began talking to and we immediately connected. You know that kind of connection where you just feel like you could talk forever and you understand them without really needing words? That was my connection with Andi. We’ve never met, don’t get me wrong, but the day we started talking and realized how similar we are was a day that I believe to have changed us both. I had a new English teacher friend, someone I could relate to, complain about my students to, worry about deadlines and grades with. We were “insta-friends” and a few days later, Andi dubbed us “Soul Sisters”. It stands true to this day, a few months later, that I still go to her to talk to someone who understands what it’s like to teach and the trials and horrors that come with it. No one understands a teacher quite like another teacher. =)
This past Monday, Andi tweeted out, “Anyone want to give me $200 so my kids can have books?” I immediately tweeted her back saying that I was sorry and sympathized with her. I understood that pain of not being able to get necessary materials in order to get through to your students and actually make a difference in their lives. I knew the guilt and self-crushing doubt that comes with that type of “failure”. Andi went on to tell me that the previous teacher, whom she took over for, stole an entire class set of canonical novels and she was now down forty copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic. My mind was blown. My heart hurt. That’s just unspeakable. Now Andi was left with not being able to afford $200 worth of necessary materials to teach these students what she was told she has to teach them. There is no getting around it. There is no reading another book. You teach what you are told to teach, and if the school couldn’t provide the books for her class… well… for a lack of better words, Andi and her students were about to be thrown in the dumpsters and left for dead. That’s how the teacher world works.
I immediately put out a plea for her on twitter, asking if anyone had any copies that they could donate to Andi and her class. To both mine and Andi’s extreme surprise, two wonderful people (ReadingtoDistraction and Literary, etc.) stepped up and donated their own money to buy 30 copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic. We were so overwhelmed, touched, moved by their generosity. Even though I’m surrounded by amazing people in this community, I never thought that doing something like this could be possible. I was messaging Andi as we were both crying over the fact that people actually do care about teachers. People actually do care about our students and want them to succeed. People actually do care and are generous enough to donate so much of what they have for the good of others. We cried together that night and the next morning, Andi and her principal cried over it too.
We were all so happy, and it was then that I was hit with the idea for this feature and realized that I had to be the one to create it, promote it, and tell the stories of people who have a greater need than I do. This feature is what my blog was created for. Helping people has always been my passion and I knew…I KNEW… that this was something I needed to do. I asked Andi to tell a little bit about her story, her students, and how far they have come with her help. I asked her to tell me about her need for these classroom copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic so that even those of you reading this who aren’t teachers can really relate to what we go through and how desperate some of these students are to get supplies that will encourage them to learn and grow to be more than they ever thought imaginable.
Without further adieu, Ms. Andi Strube…
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until my senior year of high school. I went through some hard stuff at that time in my life, and it took me seven years to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree. But, on December 16, 2014, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education. I had a job before I graduated college at a middle school here in Las Vegas, Becker. I got thrown in halfway through the year and it has been an adventure, to say the very least.
Now, being trained only in high schools, every day is an adventure. At first, the kids annoyed me every day because, come on, they’re 12. As time has gone on, I’ve become so attached to these kids and their learning. Their success is my success; their failure is my failure. For the last quarter of the year, we are supposed to read The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen for our novel. It is my dream to teach a Holocaust unit. It is one of the most important moments in human history. The art, the tenacity of the human spirit, the tragedy, the mistakes we cannot repeat, ever. It is perfect for these kids. The teacher before me retired, and she told me she was leaving me her class set of books. How generous of her! However, last week when I was looking for them, they were gone. Today, I asked the teacher across the hall what happened to them and she informed me that the previous teacher had lied to me: she took her class set with her.
So, I ventured to the book room where there were exactly zero copies of the book. Of course, I panicked. When I got home, I researched bulk buying options, and being a new teacher, I cannot afford to spend $200 on a class set of books. Imagine my despair. My kids are so excited to learn about World War II and the Holocaust, to study its literature. So, I turned to Twitter. I am an avid user and book blogger, I figured someone could help me. Kelly, being the incredible person she is, helped me reach out to see if anyone could donate. 20 minutes later, and I have 30 books on their way to me and my classroom.
I would like to speak for me and my kids when I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. This was one of the most incredibly generous things that has ever happened, and I can’t believe people would be so generous to a stranger on Twitter. Teaching is my passion, my life. I could not live without my kids and their quest for knowledge – even if it sometimes seems like they don’t care. You have made these kids so happy by donating these books, and I hope this paying it forward trend can continue. As I sit here writing this, I am still crying and shocked and amazed at all of this kindness. Just know how much this means – I have no words to display how much. Thank you again, and remember, keep paying it forward.”
Andi and her class are still in need of 10 copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic.
(Please note that Andi no longer needs any copies. See above update.)
If you are able to, please donate your copy, or buy a thrift copy and send it to her. It would mean the world to her, her students, and myself, if we were able to say that her students, who are growing up in an incredibly impoverished school district, were able to have all 40 classroom copies donated for the sake of enriching these students’ lives. These copies will be left for the next teacher after Andi so that they can continue to influence and help students through their adolescent years, and help teachers through their careers. If you are able to donate and would like to get contact information for Andi, please e-mail me at KPeterson320@yahoo.com. I have also started a shelf of books that are needed for Readers Helping Teachers on my Goodreads so that everyone can see what is still needed. You can find my shelf here!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this. Please share Andi’s story and help her get those books.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with a situation similar to Andi’s or a lack of books for the younger generation, please contact me at KPeterson320@yahoo.com. My hope is that I can share other people’s stories and help them when they need it most.
The next generation of children growing up have a right to read. They have a right to get lost in books and find a love of education and learning. They have a right to try it and see if it’s for them. This economy is taking away that right. Please remember that the more people who see this feature, the more people I can help. Spread Andi’s story. Share this feature. Tell me stories. Help get the word out. This bookish community is a wonderful place and if we all band together to help those in need, I truly believe we can do wonders.
Until next time, my dear readers…