by Josh Cohen, Digital News Manager
ORLANDO - Whether you are a current or former student, you probably have a list of your all-time favorite teachers. It’s kind of like in sports when we think about our favorite players—certain characteristics launch them to the top.
Teachers, especially new teachers, also must have several crucial traits to be successful and respected by their students, including being empathetic, communicative, adaptable, fair, patient, and prepared.
Orange and Osceola County first-year teachers will be happy to learn a local nonprofit is going above and beyond to help set them up for long-term success.
A Gift for Teaching empowers teachers to inspire future leaders by providing educational resources to ensure classrooms and students have the basic academic tools for learning. Recently, the nonprofit devised a new subscription program for first-year teachers. The program equips them with supplies for their classrooms every quarter, so students will have what they need to succeed throughout the school year.
Now, thanks to a $30,000 donation from the DeVos Family Foundation, as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, more first-year teachers will be able to utilize A Gift for Teaching’s services and be better prepared after getting hired.
“Since our inception (in 1998), the Orlando Magic has partnered and invested in the mission of A Gift for Teaching, and that’s why receiving this special grant from the DeVos Family Foundation just means everything to us right now,” A Gift for Teaching President Jane Thompson said. “We are excited to be able to celebrate the Magic at such a special time in our community. So many families are really, really struggling and feeling stretched to the limit. We are just thrilled to be part of this.”
Since 1998, A Gift for Teaching has distributed nearly 153 million supplies to teachers, including 14.5 million pencils and 2.3 million books. There have been over 357,000 teacher visits to the store. The value of each shopping visit is estimated to be $650, while the value of daily distribution is around $65,000.
During the 2021-22 school year, $244,000 worth of top essential items were collected and made available by A Gift for Teaching, while $2.1 million worth of supplies were delivered in bulk to schools. A total of $9.9 million of educational resources was distributed.
“We are always trying to improve the way we support teachers and their students,” Thompson said. “Especially during this past year, teachers have told us how challenging it’s been to support the emotional needs of their kids as well as trying to keep them on track academically.
Many first-year teachers are expected to equip their whole classrooms from scratch. Imagine if they knew from the moment they were hired that all of their needs would be met because of A Gift for Teaching’s support. This is the kind of innovative programming and new distribution methods we want to work on so that we can help empower new teachers, as well as all teachers, to succeed and so that they can help their kids reach new heights.”
As part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over 18 months, investing in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.
The late Rich DeVos, who bought the Magic in 1991, was often referred to as a chief cheerleader, emanating his compassion for others. That mantra is shared by his entire family, who now continue his legacy with the same philanthropic mindset.
“That was my father. When we first got involved with the team and acquired the franchise, that’s the one thing he said: ‘Don’t call us owners. We’re not owners. We’re caretakers,’” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos explained. “The real stakeholders are the fans and community of Central Florida.”