The day Jolie Brouttier got her first teaching job, she registered for AdoptAClassroom.org. “I didn’t know the specifics of what I would need, but I had substituted and knew there were a lot of materials that come out of the pocket of the teacher.”
To make things more difficult, she went into a school as an added-on teacher, meaning she wasn’t replacing anyone and therefore wouldn’t get any hand-me-downs. That first year, she was adopted by family, friends, and businesspeople she knew personally by sharing the link through Facebook and email. “I didn’t have any friends in the education world, all of it was Facebook.”
Helping the public understand her students
In the four years since that first day, things have changed a lot for Jolie. “I’m very vocal in my community…I reach out to the newspaper a lot, I message the news companies and share a lot of personal stories.” She also finds new donors via her Instagram account, where she shares classroom stories. Her strategy is to help the public understand where her students come from and what she wants to give them.
Many of her students are constantly moving in and out of shelters or motels, meaning their time in her classroom can be short, sometimes only a couple weeks. Still, she wants them to feel loved. “Not only do they light up, but they stay focused more. They think, ‘these teachers just try to cram information into my brain, but this teacher loves me.’”
She buys big packs of socks to help students keep warm, or fit into shoes that are too big for them. If a student doesn’t have a coat, she finds them one.
“Just last week I gave a little kid a backpack. It’s huge on him but he wears that every day to school.”
Every year she gives Christmas to her class of 20-25 students, as she knows many of them won’t get it anywhere else. “I buy them all stockings through my [AAC] account and stuff them with school supplies, bubbles, candy…it’s the best thing that happens to them. I video tape it every year and when I feel like I’m having a tough day I’ll watch the video and say ‘nah, I’m ok.’”
Never having to worry about supplies
Jolie jokes about the supplies she thought she’d need before starting her first year, as she now has a much better idea of what is vital to the classroom. But still she notes that “nothing ever goes unused, everything is always used and appreciated.”
When people she didn’t know started donating to her classroom, Jolie was amazed.
“I’ve never had to worry about ‘gosh, what if I run out of glue sticks.’ I just have to log-on.”
Talking about what she’s been able to purchase for her classroom immediately led Jolie back to the gratitude she has for her donors,
“I really just want to hug all these people I’ve never met. It’s the little things that go a long way.”
Things are not going to fall from the sky
“Don’t be afraid to be loud. And by loud I mean put yourself out there. Let’s be honest, we’re teachers and teaching is our life.”
She feels her success has come from sharing the stories of her students and letting her passion for education show at every opportunity.
“You’ve gotta work hard and put yourself out there if you want to raise these funds. If you don’t love what you do, people are going to know.”
Her biggest piece of the advice is the same advice she gives her Kindergarten students:
“Things are not going to fall from the sky. If you want it bad enough there are ways to get it.”
If you’re a teacher looking to fund your classroom, register here.
Want to hear more stories like Jolie’s? Check out our other Success Stories.