Ohatchee teacher honored with surprise supply donation
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Oct 01, 2013 | 3833 views |  0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ohatchee Elementary School teacher Debbie Staton has her second-grade class gathered around at a box of free stuff given to her by OfficeMax as part of the A Day Made Better program.  (Photo by Trent Penny)
Ohatchee Elementary School teacher Debbie Staton has her second-grade class gathered around at a box of free stuff given to her by OfficeMax as part of the A Day Made Better program. (Photo by Trent Penny)
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OHATCHEE –It felt like Christmas came early in Deborah Staton’s classroom.

The Ohatchee Elementary School second-grade teacher’s students oohed and aahed Tuesday morning as Staton pulled notebooks, finger paint, a label maker, a Canon camera and a Kindle Fire tablet computer out of a seemingly never-ending supply box delivered to her classroom.

“Just look at all of this stuff,” Staton said with a smile and tears of joy. “I can’t even go through all of it.”

The supplies, worth $1,000, were courtesy of “A Day Made Better,” a program started by Adopt a Classroom. Across the country on Tuesday, employees from OfficeMax, the company that sponsors the program, surprised 1,000 teachers with boxes similar to Staton’s. The program is designed to help offset the money teachers pull from their own pockets to spend on their classrooms.

“My mother is a teacher at Oxford, and my sister is a teacher at Weaver, so I know what it’s like,” said Donnie Harris, the assistant manager at Oxford’s OfficeMax, who delivered the supplies to Staton on Tuesday. “I sometimes helped them set up their classrooms, and they’d spend $1,000 sometimes.”

Staton, who has taught in Ohatchee since 1987, said she routinely spends about $800 a year for classroom supplies. While teachers in Alabama do receive state money, Staton said in the summer months, teachers focus on making sure they have the basic essentials for their classrooms to start the year, wiping out most of their stipends before the bell rings on the first day.

“You really never have anything left over for technology,” Staton said. “This doesn’t just help me out, it helps out the parents who have to buy kids these things.”

Julie Hood, the principal at Ohatchee Elementary, said Harris contacted her in July about selecting a teacher for the honor.

“It was a tough selection process,” Hood said. “How do you pick just one teacher? But I know Staton will share.”

That’s if Staton can keep the supplies away long enough from her own students, who were having just as much fun going through the box as their teacher on Tuesday.

Staton said Hood informed her Monday she was going to have a guest on Tuesday, but had no idea who was coming or what to expect. Harris said the surprise is what makes the day so special.

“It’s the best day of work,” he said. “Everything else is just small stuff compared to this.”

Staton said while she knows she’ll get great use out of the supplies, just a special recognition of her work from the school and the community is really what made her day better.

“It’s just nice to know so many people care about how much time and money we put into this,” Staton said. “We don’t do it for ourselves or because we have to, we do it because we want to for the kids.”

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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