BISD students raise $25,000 for teacher supplies
An initiative sparked by students’ desire to give back to the teachers of the Beaumont Independent School District garnered the support of the community and an outpouring of financial backing for their efforts, raising roughly $25,000 to fund back to school supplies for the educators, according to one of the cause’s organizers, West Brook High School grad Sarah Sanders.
“Our original goal was to raise $5,000,” Sanders said of the grassroots effort Adopt a BISD Teacher, co-founded with 17-year-old Austin Bienvenu, a current West Brook student. “It turned into something much bigger. It’s ridiculous how much money we raised.”
Among top contributors to the effort were Bob and Karen Wortham, Joy and Will Crenshaw, Quality Mat Company, Kinsel Motors, Coastal Welding Supply, and Beaumont Tractor. Sanders also gave much gratitude to the students of the West Brook Key Club, who, she said, “worked so hard; they really just went above and beyond what could have been expected of anyone.”
Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-Fil-A, Orange Leaf, and Raising Canes offered donations to the fundraiser, and Sanders said the group was given special treatment and discounts at local retailers when the group went to purchase school supplies for the massive teacher-focused giveaway that occurred at the BISD Administration Building on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 21 and 22. At Walmart, Target and Sam’s, Sanders said, “We bought so much stuff that we kept locking up their computers. They did a lot of it by hand, but they were so helpful to us we really appreciated it.”
More than 1,000 teachers were given school supplies over the two days the Adopt a BISD Teacher effort doled out its goods. Among those who benefited from the effort was Dishman Elementary School teacher Gina Slaydon, who was quick to praise the work of the young volunteers.
“I think this is just amazing, and I think it reflects the quality of teachers the students received here. “This is exactly what I would expect from students like ours.”
Fellow Dishman educator Glenda Baltutis agreed with her co-worker.
“We’re so proud of them,” she said. “They really took the ball and ran with it. These kids are going to be somebody someday.”
Event co-founder Bienvenu said he is equally proud of the educators who have given him instruction throughout his formative years.
“My teachers over the years have all been so great,” Bienvenu said, adding that his interest in helping BISD teachers saw its genesis in a proposed Reduction in Force that would have eliminated Fine Arts programs in the school district by eliminating the positions of Fine Arts teachers. “Once they threatened Fine Arts, I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore.”
Bienvenu said now that school is back in session, he has other plans for his time at BISD.
“After this, I think it’s time to just be a kid again,” the 17-year-old told The Examiner. “I’ll still go to some school board meetings, but I’m ready to be a kid again.” Superintendent Vernon Butler said he was amazed by the support of BISD teachers shown by the Beaumont community.
“The issues in the district were overshadowing everything good taking place at Beaumont ISD,” Butler said. “We need to get back to the good that’s taking place so we don’t lose sight of what’s really important here.
“There’s definitely progress,” Butler said, to move forward from actions occurring under past BISD administrations, “but this is what it’s all about – this is what encourages me and excites me to do the hard things that need to be done.”
Partners in Education supervisor Ron Reynolds, who assisted the students in their efforts, said the experience is one he will never forget.
“It has been an overwhelming joy to be a support unit to our students who put on this supply drive,” he said. “The community is coming together, not to give the educators of Beaumont a diatribe, but to give them their support as we embark on a new school year.”