One of the most recent hashtag trends to surface social media over the past few weeks has been the #10featuredteachers, a challenge that allows celebrities everywhere to use their influence for the good of education.
The rules of the challenge are pretty simple: 1- If you’re a teacher, send a photo and short story about yourself, your district, your school, or your students, 2- Build an Amazon Wishlist and send the link, and 3- Cross your fingers and hope for the best in being a featured teacher on your favorite celebrities Instagram. If selected, the teacher is featured on the celebrities Instagram, alongside their story and Amazon Wishlist. From there, the millions of fans and followers on that account have an opportunity to be generous in providing and meeting the needs on the wishlist.
For New Richmond High School English Teacher, Mrs. Merritt, this is exactly what she did when she reached out to Kristen Bell. Bell has graced the screens in nearly 50 movies or television shows, most notably for school-aged children would be her role as the voice of Anna in Disney’s Frozen.
“Being selected as a ‘featured teacher’ is similar to winning the lottery. I saw a chance to improve my classroom for my students and I took it,” stated Merritt, who is the 19th featured teacher on Bell’s Instagram. “I actually did not like my first entry, so I revised the biography I sent to her, and I believe this was a huge factor in Kristen selecting my profile.”
After being selected, Merritt was not the only one feeling she had hit the jackpot. Of course her fellow coworkers and the families in the community who had been impacted by her were responding well, but it was the response from the students that would prove this Instagram Challenge to be a success.
Students immediately took to social media to express their excitement, gratitude, and support for their teacher. Their enthusiasm didn’t stop there though.
“It’s overwhelming! My students are so supportive and they are very excited to see what is brought into the classroom. They seem to be particularly interested in the flexible seating options that will be available to them,” Merritt stated. “There has been a strong response from parents and New Richmond employees as well. Our community likes to celebrate each other and that's one of the many reasons I am so happy to be a part of the NREVSD family!”
Since the challenge began, nearly 600 educators have been on the receiving end of this challenge. Collectively, featured or not, teachers could agree that this challenge has benefits reaching far beyond the classroom. From pressures of the jobs outside the teaching aspect, there are expectations to maintain healthy relationships with students and parents, as well as, making certain that students are protected and cared for mentally, emotionally, and physically. This challenge has raised awareness that teachers need support in their classrooms that often times cannot be provided by a district or at the state level.
“I truly believe that one one of the best characteristics of the New Richmond village is how staunchly everyone supports the community. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, classified staff, and alumni all try to do their part. However, a teacher's instruction in the classroom is limited to the resources they have available, and we can't possibly expect the community to provide everything,” candidly stated Merritt. “This opportunity will allow myself and the other teachers in my department to increase the volume and quality of our classroom libraries, positively impact the classroom atmosphere by curbing attention and behavioral issues that arise, and have resources for project based learning, amongst other things. I also included some personal care items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste to be donated to families through our Lions Reach Out program, and a portion of the gift cards that were purchased will also be donated to Lions Reach Out.”
For Merritt alone, roughly $4700 worth of merchandise was purchased from her Amazon Wishlist. From books, flexible seating options, even personal care items, this opportunity is positively powerful. The generosity and outpouring of support from those near and far is truly appreciated and a simple reminder that there is still good in this world.