Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 12, 2013

A day made better

Starpoint's Patricia Oliphant wins $1,000 worth of school supplies from OfficeMax

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Patricia Oliphant’s kindergarten class at Starpoint’s Fricano Primary School was on their way out for a field trip to Kelkenberg Farms earlier this month, when Oliphant was told by Principal Bonnie Stafford she couldn’t leave the building.

Stafford didn’t explain, which had Oliphant wondering what was going on.

”She didn’t tell me why,” Oliphant said.

The reason was explained soon, as two large boxes and a nice new desk chair were delivered by OfficeMax representatives. They were stopping by to visit Oliphant, who was one of nine local teachers named as this year’s A Day Made Better winners.

The initiative aims to provide teachers with enough school supplies so that educators won’t have to spend their own money to buy things their students need. Selected teachers were nominated by their principals for demonstrating passion, dedication and innovation in the classroom, OfficeMax said.

So, on Oct. 1, OfficeMax brought Oliphant two large boxes filled to the brim with things like crayons, markers, folders, notebooks and so on. And there was more than enough stuff to go around for Oliphant’s kids.

“It was such an honor,” she said. “I do love school supplies, I kept inviting people to come and take some.”

With schools watching money closer than ever and looking to cut wherever they can in their budgets, classroom materials and supplies are often among the items that get trimmed. As a result, according to AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers can spend as much as $1,000 each year of their own money for classroom materials and supplies. AdoptAClassroom, which by itself has raised over $18 million to benefit classrooms across the country since 1998, has partnered with OfficeMax for the A Day Made Better program.

And since 2007, when the program started, OfficeMax has donated about $1.7 million in classroom supplies to teachers and schools across the country. Each of the 1,000 teachers who were surprised Oct. 1 received about $1,000 worth of school supplies.

Also, OfficeMax consumers and business clients contributed nearly $700,000 in additional school supplies through this summer’s in-store supply drive held at OfficeMax stores across the country.

”Teachers and education are a part of the crucial infrastructure necessary to build a promising future for our children and yet many teachers and schools face significant challenges to make ends meet in the classroom due to budget shortfalls,” said Carolynn Brooks, vice president, chief diversity officer and president of the OfficeMax Charitable Foundation. “OfficeMax is proud to be hosting its seventh year of A Day Made Better, where we join our customers in helping teachers and schools secure the supplies they need to succeed.”

Oliphant, who is in her 18th year teaching at Starpoint, is a phenomenal teacher, Stafford said. She often requests to include special needs students in her general education kindergarten class.

“She’s very happy to have them in her class,” Stafford said.

And if her students have something special going on, like a sporting event for example, Oliphant usually attends them. She is a very receptive and very strong teacher, Stafford said.

”Families that have had kids in her class in the past, request her for their younger kids,” Stafford said. “She’s somebody who is in the profession for the right reasons.”

Oliphant has taught for a total of 29 years, with all but three of them in kindergarten.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.