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Ellen R. Delisio headshot

Schools Still Face Impacts From the Pandemic, But Businesses Can Help

Schools, educators and families are still battling the effects of the pandemic, and businesses are linking up with the nonprofit AdoptAClassroom.org to help them respond. One of them is a Louisiana Subaru dealership that is helping a local middle school weather tough times.
subaru loves learning - students in classroom

Each August, Subaru supports high-needs schools across the country through a partnership with AdoptAClassroom.org.

As a new school season kicks off, educators, students, parents and schools are still battling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Teachers are being stretched thread-thin as they push to cope with a large number of students who are behind academically and struggling with challenges such as mental health issues and food insecurity. The rising cost of goods is putting further strain on families, with 40 percent of respondents in a recent survey saying they’re stressed about the money they will spend on back-to-school shopping — up from 28 percent in 2021. 

To take stock of the present need, AdoptAClassroom.org surveyed 4,665 teachers who instruct students from pre-Kindergarten through high school at public, private and charter schools. Not surprisingly, teachers reported shouldering more responsibilities and relying more on their own resources to meet students’ needs.

Eighty-one percent of teachers reported a heavier workload during the last school year, while 80 percent said they were spending more time addressing students’ mental health needs. Another 71 percent reported spending more of their own money on supplies for their classrooms, and 69 percent said they were devoting more time to helping students catch up academically. 

Teachers increasingly shoulder emotional and financial burdens in the classroom, but businesses can help

Studies have shown that about 96 percent of teachers purchase supplies for their students, spending an average of $750 annually. Because of academic deficits tied to the pandemic, 78 percent of teachers reported needing more classroom supplies.

The pandemic also continues to take its toll on families, and 92 percent of classrooms have students whose parents cannot afford to purchase school supplies, according to AdoptAClassroom.org’s study.

The Minnesota nonprofit has been providing funding for school supplies to classrooms and families in need since 1998. Educators can register on AdoptAClassroom.org’s website and receive funding in several ways: through individual donations, crowdfunding, corporate sponsor donations or by applying for AdoptaClassroom.org’s Spotlight funds. 

As teachers face continued challenges, more companies are responding to those needs by strengthening their relationships with AdoptAClassroom.org. 

In particular, Subaru of America, Inc. and its retailers across the U.S. “adopted” classrooms at schools in their communities and provided supplies, as well as flexible funding in the form of credits to be spent on the AdoptAClassroom.org marketplace, supporting learning resources. Subaru is the largest corporate supporter of AdoptAClassroom.org. The automaker and its retailers have provided supplies to more than 300,000 students nationwide since 2021 as part of the Subaru Loves Learning initiative, and they continue to expand their participation. More than 600 Subaru retailers partnered with high-need schools in their local communities this year. 

In just one of many examples, Baldwin Subaru of Covington, Louisiana, has taken Pine View Middle School under its wing and last year began providing flexible funding in the form of credits to the AdoptAClassroom.org marketplace, resources and volunteer hours to the school, including $10,000 which was used to buy seating for students with disabilities.

In Covington, Louisiana, a local business helps a public middle school weather tough times

The only public middle school in the area, Pine View serves all of the surrounding elementary schools, which means it has a highly diverse population. Like most of the schools in the AdoptAClassroom.org program, Pine View is a high-needs school, based on the number of students who receive free and reduced-priced lunches. 

While the school says it does have resources to support students' emotional and academic needs, its staff can always use more help. There is a full-time mental health provider and guidance counselor on staff, as well as 20 before- and after-school extracurricular activities in which students can participate, as noted by Dr. Seu Hee Ledet, principal of Pine View Middle School.

“They can feel a sense of belonging that helps with their socialization, connectedness and mental health,” Dr. Ledet said. “We address academic deficits with targeted daily interventions using student data and student work.”

Recently, Baldwin Subaru employees and members of the community held a “beautification day” at Pine View, painting the school’s exterior doors, basketball court, and the exterior of the building that surrounds the playground area. They also planted flowers around the area and donated basketballs. 

“The basketball court was in rough shape, so we removed the grass from the court and replaced the backboards with new netting,” said Lindsey Rose, marketing director of Baldwin Subaru. The dealership plans to continue to work with the school for future facility updates and donate needed playground equipment. 

“We loved working with this school so much and saw that they really needed the funds, so we increased the donation and activities for this year,” Rose continued. “In May, we also visited the school with our mobile service van and provided free multi-point inspections, fluid top-offs, oil changes, and inflated tires for all of the teachers and staff.”

Baldwin also plans to donate an additional 25 classroom supply kits to the school. “These kits were curated by AdoptAClassroom.org and Subaru by reviewing national purchasing data of the most in-demand and commonly used supplies,” Rose said. The kits will include items such as pencils, pens, disinfecting wipes, sticky notes, highlighters, dry erase markers and erasers.

Pine View Middle staff members say they’re grateful for the partnership. “Dr. Ledet specifically has been extremely accommodating and open to all the ideas that we have presented to her,” Rose said. “However, we have received the most feedback from the community. Since we started working with Pine View, we have had multiple customers tell us that they choose to purchase a car or service their vehicle with us because of the support that we have provided to the school.” 

“Our staff loves positive feedback and the publicity about the hard work they are doing and any partnership,” Dr. Ledet added.  “They are thrilled for another year’s sponsorship.”  

The Subaru philosophy is that partnerships such as these should not be viewed as going above and beyond, but as the norm. Retailers must start by providing support within their own cities and towns, Rose said. “Any business, local or national, that opens its doors in our community should take responsibility for helping the community that we live and work in grow and flourish,” she said. “This is part of the Subaru Love Promise and how Subaru gives back, simply because it is the right thing to do, and makes Subaru More Than a Car Company.”

This article series is sponsored by Subaru and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team. 

Images courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Ellen R. Delisio headshot

Ellen R. Delisio is a freelance writer and paraeducator who lives in Middletown, CT.  Over the past 30 years, her writing has focused on life science, sustainability and education issues. Ellen is an avid reader and beach-goer.

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