It may seem as if summer’s just begun, but back to school is just around the corner. While students may be the most vocal about their back-to-school woes, this is also a stressful time of year for teachers.
Wisconsin teachers are underpaid, making less than $15 an hour on average. Yet, many teachers must spend their own money on school supplies for their classrooms, such as pencils, notebooks, whiteboards, and even software. About 90% of them will not be reimbursed for those expenses, according to the National Education Association.
Eric Salzwedel, co-founder of the non-profit organization Do Good Wisconsin, stepped in to help. According to Up North News, a Courier Newsroom publication, Salzwedel founded DGW in 2019 to spread positivity in his home state. initially operating on social media, he grew his non-profit’s base by sharing random acts of kindness whenever he witnessed them. He soon amassed thousands of followers and shared with them ways to incorporate acts of kindness and positivity into their daily lives.
It wasn’t until Salzwedel noticed local school supply drives that he got the idea for the organization’s first fundraiser.
“I always drive past school supply drives for students and kids, and don’t get me wrong, those are definitely needed,” Salzwedel told Up North News, a Courier Newsroom publication. “But I have friends who are teachers, and they seem to be underpaid. That’s when I had an idea.”
As the school year loomed, Salzwedel made a last-minute attempt to gather some school supplies via social media, and he reached out to teachers asking if they needed help. The response was larger than he expected. About 150 teachers asked for assistance.
“The response was overwhelming,” he said. “So we kept going.”
This year will be DGW’s fourth year organizing its School Supply Drive for Teachers. The organization aims to help a record 107 teachers in 2022, providing about $15,000 of supplies in total. But this is still a far cry from the 350 teachers who applied for aid.
Salzwedel told Courier Newsroom’s Up North News that selecting which teachers will receive supplies is anything but easy. In the end, first-year teachers and teachers in high-poverty areas are given priority. Still, DGW hopes to help every teacher that requests assistance in the coming years. And you can help.
You can donate to the School Supply Drive for Teachers on Do Good Wisconsin’s website and follow its efforts on Facebook. The non-profit used to accept donations of school supplies but now only accepts financial gifts. This is so every teacher will receive similar school supply boxes based on their most critical needs.
DGW is also looking for volunteers to help make Wisconsin a most positive place for students and teachers.
“We’re always looking for sponsors and supporters,” Salzwedel told Up North News, a publication by Courier Newsroom. “No amount of time or money is too small.”
This story originally appeared in Up North News, a media outlet owned by Courier Newsroom and published by Tara McGowan.
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