Diary of a First Time Mom is excited to partner with thredUp and #RaiseAHand for teachers. The fashion resale website supplied a gift card to not only me but my fave charity!

Dear Diary,

In my other life–you know, the one before I became a mom, I went back to school to obtain a teaching certification. During the day, I taught 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school outside of Washington, D.C. And at night, I became the student and headed to class. I assumed my school would arm my students with everything they needed to succeed. But you know what they say when you assume?

I felt like I lived in a suburban bubble and someone popped it.  Obviously, I knew about poverty. But I never experienced it first-hand, beyond volunteering at soup kitchens and spearheading fundraisers to send kids to camp. I assumed that my students received the same supplies, well at least the basics, as their wealthier neighbors at the other end of the county. I was wrong. Most days, I didn’t even have enough paper to make copies for handouts let alone enough textbooks for my students to take home. I didn’t have a fancy Smart Board like some of my friends teaching at school buildings with higher property taxes. Heck, I didn’t even have a white board.

So I raised money. I posted a Facebook message with my Paypal account information. My friends adopted my class and helped me buy books, school supplies and sometimes food. In one class, we formed a book club. Some students, who admitted that they never read an entire book in their lives, begged to take the novels home to read over the weekend. Beyond the material things, we formed strong relationships and sparked a love for learning. When teacher appreciation month came, the students wrote letters to their favorite teachers. The gym team won this popularity contest by a landslide. I did receive a few cards. One sticks one. A young man named Romeo wrote two sentences: I like Ms. Hopson the best, because she doesn’t take my excuses. She sets high expectations and makes me do my work and makes me believe I can succeed.

I wasn’t alone. Countless teachers are extremely generous with their time as well as their money. According to AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each year to equip their classrooms. And 70 percent of teachers have even purchased apparel items like jackets, socks and shoes for their students.

thred Up

That’s why  thredUP.com is partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org. The fashion resale site is recognizing and thanking teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. And you can join them and #Raiseahand for your favorite teacher. Starting today, you can nominate your favorite teacher. Three teachers will win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.

I’m nominating Nick Brooks. Mr. Brooks taught a math class a few doors down from my reading room. Although many of teachers who took alternative routes to certification (meaning, we had degrees outside of education and went back to school to obtain certification later in life), left the school to pursue other opportunities–Mr. Brooks stayed the course.

Nick Brooks 1

Our 8th graders are now high school graduates. He recently went back to see them cross the stage and updated me on their progress. Although I’m no longer in their lives, they remain in my heart. They were there when I began my journey to motherhood–I practiced parenting on them when I was pregnant with my daughter! So, I’ll #Raiseahand for Mr. Brooks, who is committing his life to making his students lives better.

Nick Brooks

After you nominate a teacher (or vote for Mr. Brooks!), stick around on the site and do a little back-to-school shopping. I must admit–I am not a consignment store shopper. But thredUp is changing my mind. I bought Caitlynn five brand-name dress, some with the tags still attached, for under $100!  And you don’t have to splurge.  There are kids clothes as low as $5! You can’t beat that. You’re money stretches, so your kids clothes don’t have to…lol.. Another reason why thredUp is my new website crush–they give back!  In addition to the Thank a Teacher campaign, they gave me a $100 gift card, which I donated to the Free Store in Braddock.  If you haven’t heard about this amazing initiative, the Free Store is a shopping container that has been converted to a store. Well, it’s not really a store, because no currency is exchanged.  Everything is free, hence the name! My friend Gisele, Mayor Fetterman’s wife, and a troupe of dedicated volunteers–perhaps some who are teachers themselves–run the program to help students and families in need.

Free Store 1

Free Store 2

I’m hoping you’ll support this great cause! You can join me and use social media for social good.  Retweet this message on Twitter, or share this status on Facebook. Plus, let me know who you’re nominating and why!

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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