For most people, as wonderful as their summer may have been, it is hard to ignore that the long days are bringing us to the end of this carefree time and closer and closer to fall schedules and school starting. No one is more acutely aware of this than our teachers! There has been much in the media over the last couple of months revolving around ways that teachers may feel under resourced and even underappreciated or not compensated adequately. Many districts have very discouraged teachers.
One area that many teachers feel stress over is the struggle to make sure their students have school supplies they need. Most teachers spend hundreds of dollars per year, out of their own pockets, providing paper, pencils, folders, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and other necessary supplies. This is a terrific time for churches to find creative yet tangible ways to come alongside these teachers and help them feel supported and encouraged as they begin a new school year.
This is an easy way to give small groups, youth groups, ministry circles, and families a hands-on way to do ministry in their communities. Here are some great ways to support local teachers in your community:
1) Fulfill wish lists of individual teachers in your schools. Most teachers would be happy to provide a list of items they would love to have in their classrooms to supplement what their students bring and provide things their students may not be able to supply. Go through the school secretary or even guidance counselor to get these lists. Many teachers will even list them on their school’s website! You can even go so far as to deliver it in a decorative basket or tub that the teacher can use in another creative way in his/her classroom!
2) Adopt a school. There are many ways to bless an individual school. I have seen churches adopt a school, and then each Sunday school class or small group picks an individual way to love on that particular school.
– Supply the teacher’s lounge with coffee, sugar, creamer and cups throughout the school year. Usually the teachers chip in together to buy this for their workroom/teacher’s lounge. It is a huge treat for them to never have to worry about it if a church commits to providing it throughout the year. Buy seasonal coffees and creamers as a treat. Teachers drink a lot of coffee so make sure to check in each month to see what they might have run out of!
– Host a lunch for the teachers once a quarter. Get permission to have a special day one time a quarter to bring in a special lunch. An extra blessing would be to coordinate volunteers to get approved through the district to actually provide support for the teachers so they can come for 20-30 minutes and eat the lunch in the teacher’s lounge. Teachers rarely get a break like that so it would be a special event!
– Before school starts, gain permission from the principal to send a team into the school to walk the halls and pray over each classroom and desk. This is a powerful way to prepare the school for the year ahead. Our greatest battlefield takes place in the unseen.
– Recruit individuals from your church to write encouraging notes to each teacher and support staff in that school with an encouraging Scripture. And to take it even further I have seen some churches partner each teacher up with an individual from the church who prays for them throughout the school year and monthly sends an encouraging letter.
3) Fill new backpacks with school supplies to give to a school. Some churches will have a School Supply Drive where they have the entire congregation bring supplies and backpacks off a list, and then host an event where they fill the backpacks and pray over each one before taking them to the school. Most schools have many students that need backpacks and can’t afford the supplies on the list.
4) Find out from the related arts teachers if there are certain items they need for their classrooms. For example, the PE teacher might love to have new kickballs or some other recreation item. The music teacher and art teacher might have some needs that aren’t costly, but they were not able to fit into their budget. It might be an opportunity to bless the entire student body for those needs to be filled because most related arts teachers in elementary schools see the entire student body.
These projects take some intentionality but have the potential to bless teachers, students, support staff, parents, and administration. You may end up blessing children in your own congregation! It is really beneficial if you can develop a relationship with one or two schools and specifically work with them over a period of years. This builds trust and the opportunity to invest in a specific area in your city or community.
These ideas are simple ways that any age group can participate in to do ministry. It’s also a great project for groups and families to do together. Hopefully this may even spark more ideas that are more specific to your own community and congregation!
How will you bless and support your teachers as they prepare for this school year?