OKEECHOBEE- Local teachers in Okeechobee were given the chance to get much needed classroom supplies at no cost to them.
The Education Foundation of Okeechobee hosted a launch party for its Pencil Depot at Indian River State College on Sept. 10 at 4 p.m.
At the Pencil Depot, Okeechobee teachers were provided with a voucher that gave them free access to school supplies. Teachers who attended the launch party had the ability to custom order their free care package of supplies. The Education Foundation of Okeechobee also be awarded up to $1500 in laptops, color printers, and docu-cameras to those who attended.
The goal of the Pencil Depot is to help local teachers who have, in the past, had to use their personal funds to buy supplies for their classroom.
“The biggest goal is to help teachers,” said the foundation’s executive director Andrea Medellin. “As well as student achievement. Because when you think about it, it’s making sure students who don’t have supplies, have supplies in the classroom that the teachers are providing. This allows the teacher not to stress as much and the student to be able to learn.”
The Education Foundation of Okeechobee has been working to raise money for local teachers throughout the summer of 2021. In July the foundation partnered with Publix for the "Tools for Back to School" campaign. Shoppers at the grocery store had the option of donating at the register directly to the foundation as they checked out, with 100% of the funds going straight to local classrooms in Okeechobee.
Earlier this year the Education Foundation of Okeechobee helped organize Employability Skills and Okeechobee Junior Leadership summer camps with help from the Okeechobee County Economic Development Corporation and the Economic Council of Okeechobee.
The summer camps were put together in a matter of weeks following the school district receiving money to implement more programs for students. Over 80 students applied to fill 15 slots of the summer camps. Organizers ended up adding extra sessions to accommodate more students.
Those who partook in the Employability Skills program worked with CareerSource Heartland and heard directly local employers on what they’re looking for when hiring employees. The 9th through 11th graders in the camp also got to practice their interview skills when applying for jobs in the future.
Members of the Okeechobee Junior Leadership summer program traveled around Okeechobee meeting current leaders and getting a behind the scenes look of the day-to-day work that goes into running the county government. That behind the scenes look included stops at the Board of County Commission and a meeting with Judge Bill Wallace at the Okeechobee County Courthouse.
The junior leaders gave presentations to school board members and local business leaders at the end of the two week period on their ideas for things to improve both in Okeechobee and the world as a whole. Ideas discussed in the presentations included promoting food recovery to eliminate waste, improving school lunches, funding the construction of a dog park in the community, making Okeechobee more inclusive and more.
The Education Foundation of Okeechobee is looking to increase the help they provide to local teachers, and they say they can’t do that without community support.
"We would not be able to have any of our programs without the community’s support and commitment to our students and teachers,” explained Medellin. “That is why one of our main goals is to provide awareness of the foundation’s programs and the work we do so anyone that wants to be a part of our mission in helping our local students and teachers achieve excellence can be.”
The foundation’s website has more information on how you can support their mission at https://educationfoundationofokeechobee.com.