by Jeremy Sierra
Trinity dedicated more than 400 Totes for Teachers on Sunday, which will help more than 12,000 students in lower Manhattan. With the aid of its partners, Trinity congregation and staff collected paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, and other supplies to be distributed to teachers.
“This is what a community of practice looks like,” said Vicar Anne Mallonee in her sermon. “This is what a culture of love can do.”
Other organizations helped collect supplies as well, including Baruch College, Pace University, AFCO Credit Corporation/BB&T, and Alice + Olivia.
This is the second year that All Our Children has collected supplies for teachers. This year they have focused on helping schools in Lower Manhattan. There are more than 60 schools in the area, and 15 of those are designated Schools In Need of Improvement.
“Our goal was to ensure that every student in our neighborhood has the supplies and resources they need to succeed,” said Anita Chan, Associate Director of Faith In Action.
Members of Trinity’s Education Action held some of the bright red tote bags during the service, while the congregation committed to helping teachers in the community and dedicated the totes. The Education Action Group includes Joyce Coppin Mondesire, Dolores Osborne, Saundra Pinn, Lonny Shockley and Carla Richards, most of whom have worked in education.
Afterwards, they gathered in the Parish Hall with other parishioners, staff members, and teachers for a teacher appreciation forum.
Teachers from six public schools attended, including Richard R. Green Teaching High School just down the street from Trinity and several elementary schools. The schools had been contacted by Chan and Ariella Louie, Program Assistant for Faith in Action, as well as by the local chapter of the United Federation of Teachers.
Many of these teachers spend a significant amount of their own money on school supplies. “The biggest donors back to public schools, is teachers and parents,” said the Rev. Matt Heyd. Some teachers spend upwards of $750 per year.
The city has provided teachers with money to buy supplies, but that program has been cut back significantly. Richard R. Green High School ran out of paper by the end of last school year, explained one teacher.
“The purpose of the forum is to get to know and hear from you,” Chan explained to the teachers. “To support the work you are doing and find out what we might be able to do to help.”
The teachers and Trinity parishioners spent an hour talking about the problems they face and their ideas for fixing them.
The teachers talked about creating a more balanced approach to education, including offering more vocational education. “A lot of kids are very talented and have skills in other areas that are not math and science,” said Lonny Shockley, a parishioner and educator. “We need to meet them where they are.”
They also spoke about improving early education, and the important role parents and the community play in improving education.
“There’s so much of an emphasis on teacher quality and assessment; I think we’re missing the fact that there are so many kids who are behind when they come to us,” said one high school teacher.
This forum was a chance to start some new relationships between Trinity and local teachers. “A lot could be done with partnership,” said Joyce Coppin Mondesire, who helped start All Our Children. “And that’s what we’re all about.”
They ended the afternoon by speaking about why they chose to be teachers and taking tote bags of supplies to use in their classrooms. “I went into teaching because of my 3rd and 4th grade teachers,” explained on teacher. “I believe I was saved by those two teachers.”
It was very clear that the teachers present care deeply about their students. “It sounds cliché, but most teacher get into it to literally change the world. If you can make the world better one kid a t a time, then I’m happy,” said a high school teacher.
“Stay together, stay in touch with each other,” said Shockley at the end of the forum. “Keep doing what you’re doing because the students need you.”
The Totes will be picked up by teachers and distributed to schools in the coming weeks. For more information about All Our Children and about school partnerships, contact Ariella Louie at ALouie@trinitywallstreet.org or Anita Chan at AChan@trinitywallstreet.org.