Fourth grade Forest Park Elementary School teacher Kelli Budney wasn’t exactly expecting to see $1,000 worth of school supplies when she walked into her classroom on Tuesday, Oct. 4, but it certainly made her day a little better.
“I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher and his crew to come by,” Budney said. “I was completely overwhelmed. It was a tremendous surprise. It was heartwarming to see a company like Office Max really stand behind teachers like that.”
Workers from the Office Max located on Central Avenue dropped by on that Tuesday to deliver to Budney $1,000 worth of school supplies as a part of the national program called “A Day Made Better.” The school nominates a teacher deserving of the award and the nominations are handed to the corporate office, where a teacher is chosen to receive supplies from each of the 1,000 Office Max stores in the nation.
Frank Hoban, the store manager at the Office Max on Central Avenue, said many teachers are using their own resources to help students in their classes. Even though he had that Tuesday off, he decided to help deliver the supplies anyways.
“This is the fifth one I’ve done,” he said. “I came in because of the satisfaction I get from surprising a teacher and seeing the emotion from the children when you show up there. Being able to see a teacher’s expression when they realize they’re being honored for their hard work, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Before Hoban and his crew came into Budney’s class, she was administering a math test. Just a few minutes before 10 a.m., two of her students were called down to the main office. They came back at 10 a.m. with one student carrying flowers and the other holding a certificate from Office Max. The students were then accompanied by Hoban and Principal Patrick Gunner, who then explained to Budney what exactly was going on.
“What Mr. Hoban had said was that I’m very involved with my school,” Budney said. “We all do the best we can for our students.”
Budney is involved in several programs at the school. One of the things that stood out to Hoban was the anti-bullying campaign she has been a part of because it is a hot topic and there’s even state legislation on the matter.
Inside the box was a printer, a camera, calculators, pens, pencils, erasers and various other everyday school supplies. Hoban said the store collects donations of supplies from people in the community throughout the year. So in total, Budney received $2,000 worth of supplies.
“There were even some unusual items,” Budney said. “Stuff like a hanging folder rack, a desk calendar. There was a lot of stuff.”
Budney said she was pleased to get the recognition not just because it showcased her hard work, but also because it shed a positive light that teachers have not been under as of late.
“Everyone loves to be recognized,” she said. “In this day and age, it is easy to find negative attitudes in teachers… They may call it ‘A Day Made Better,’ but it kind of made my year.”
Hoban said Office Max has donated supplies to almost 5,500 teachers throughout the country. Even though this wasn’t the first time he had done this, he said each time is special.
“I know they have their own PR person, but it really is one of those experiences where you have to be there to realize how special it is,” he said. “Consider it being on a nationwide basis, this is one out of a thousand teachers out of how many thousands nominated. It’s a really special day.”
So, was Budney mad that the math test her students were taking was abruptly interrupted?
“No, it’s kind of hard to be upset when you’re being given all these gifts,” she said. “I’m sure the kids weren’t upset at all.”