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Young professionals pay it forward

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | August 10, 2020 1:06 AM

Ponderosa Elementary receives $7,000 in supplies

POST FALLS — School hasn't even officially begun and educators are already feeling some love.

The Teacher Fund, a nonprofit that formed in early 2019, has gifted $7,000 in school supplies to Ponderosa Elementary School in Post Falls.

"It was supposed to happen in spring semester," Teacher Fund co-founder Joel Wasserman said Wednesday. "Because of COVID and everything it got pushed back."

A merry band of benefactors made the drop about two weeks ago during a visit to the River City. They waited for the school to be empty before they delivered dry erase markers, whiteboards, wobble stools, paint for art projects, cubbies and more.

Ponderosa first-grade teacher Danielle Power said she received gifts from the Teacher Fund in the fall and while she did not request anything this round, she was "filled with immense gratitude!"

"We are nothing but thankful for Joel, his team and their selfless acts," she said.

The Teacher Fund is based in Washington and comprises young professionals who were so moved by their own educational journeys that they have taken it upon themselves to court donors and generate funds for teachers who often spend their own money on classroom items.

Wasserman is a former Dalton Gardens Elementary student and a 2012 Coeur d'Alene High School graduate who is now a software engineer for Google in Seattle. He and his colleagues view these gifts simply as tokens of appreciation for the mentorship and care that teachers invested in them when they were students.

The last supply drop supported three Ponderosa teachers, but this round the Teacher Fund was able to open it up to all teachers to fulfill their wish lists.

"We got 99% of things they asked for," Wasserman said. "We’re so grateful and lucky to have donors that allowed us to open it up to that broader audience."

He said plans are to engage with local donors and businesses to help even more North Idaho schools and teachers in the future. The Teacher Fund is looking to build supportive relationships at Borah and Prairie View elementary schools next, he said.

"It feels like a responsibility," Wasserman said. "I wouldn't say it feels 'good' or 'rewarding.' It feels like something that might be a drop in the bucket for our repayment to the people and the schools that helped us succeed in life or become the people we are.

"We hope we’re doing good, and I think they understand that we appreciate them immensely," Wasserman continued. "And every donor is donating because they also share the sentiment that they're appreciative and want to give back to the teachers and schools that also enabled them to be successful."

To date, the Teacher Fund has raised $14,273 and funded three teachers at two partner schools, impacting 450 students.

"We are looking for corporate donors within the community," Wasserman said. "It's a call to arms; if anyone is interested, contact us."

Info: www.theteacherfund.com

photo

From left, Deon Watson, Danielle Powers, Joel Wasserman and Cami Williams are surrounded by boxes of school supplies as they make a delivery to Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls in July. Members of the nonprofit Teacher fund donated $7,000 in supplies as a way to show appreciation for the teachers who made a difference in their own academic lives. (Courtesy photo)