At the end of 2010, Wordstock offered to match your Willamette Week’s Give!Guide donations, dollar for dollar, in Powell’s Books gift cards for public schools participating in The Right Brain Initiative.
Check out what we were able to do with your generous contributions at The Right Brain Initiative’s blog.
On this final day of Teacher Appreciation Week, and on the eve of Mothers’ Day, I want to take a moment thank my mother, Margo Sokolow, a creative force of music and arts education who lent her talents to the West Orange School system for more than 25 years. She taught me about schools, about how important it is to be passionate about your art, and about how important it is to share that passion with young people. And she also taught me, unconsciously, about being an advocate for educators – a lesson that has permanently influenced the shape of my life and professional career.
Growing up in the New Jersey public schools as the child of a public school educator has allowed me to see myself (the student’s perspective) and my mother (the teacher’s perspective) in just about everything I read or consider in regards to the US educational system. And I try to consider both lenses in every aspect of my job as the Education Director for Wordstock. What is best for our teachers? Our students? Our community? Why is it that the act of learning to articulately express oneself, of finding one’s voice as a writer, is treated like a privilege and not the foundation from which every school experience is measured?
When I read this piece in the New York Times last Sunday, I thought again about my mother and her fellow educators. Having just moved to Portland after several years of work with the NYC Public Schools, I am just getting to know the particular struggles faced by Oregon’s teachers and principals, students and parents. But the one universal commonality in all schools is that teachers need better resources if they are going to challenge their students to exceed their self-imposed limits. So when we were trading ideas about how to honor teachers during this special week, our thoughts turned to the materials that we can provide to teachers. In our case, it’s books: a grand prize of $1,000 in Powell’s Books gift cards to be spent at the discretion of the five winning teachers, for the purpose of enhancing their classroom libraries.
We’ve had a terrific time giving away three of our five grand prizes so far, getting to see the obvious excitement from our prize winners and their students upon our arrival with balloons in tow. Next time, we’ll share more details about how we spent our Teacher Appreciation Week, and you’ll get to see and hear from our winners.