Companies surprise Pelham teachers

AT&T Pioneer volunteer group representative Peggy Burdette, right, presents more than $100 worth of classroom items to first-year Valley Elementary School teacher Erin Hale during a Sept. 13 faculty meeting. (Reporter photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Several teachers at Valley Elementary School got an unexpected gift during a Sept. 13 faculty meeting, as a pair of large companies donated to 11 teachers affected by the down economy and cuts in state education funding.

Representatives from Walmart and AT&T’s Pioneer volunteer group surprised Valley Elementary teachers during a faculty meeting, and gave away hundreds of dollars worth of school supplies and gifts.

During the meeting, Brenda Parker, a representative from the Pelham Walmart, donated $100 Walmart gift cards to 10 of the school’s teachers to help them purchase school supplies and other classroom necessities.

“We just want to let them know how much we appreciate them,” Parker said. “Valley Elementary is the closest school to our school, and we do a lot of things with them.”

Valley Elementary Principal Deborah Scarbrough said she would allocate the gift cards based on teacher need.

Parker said teachers in Pelham are facing a difficult time, as the city’s population has grown rapidly over the past several years.

“There is so much going on here right now, especially with the influx of people to this area,” Parker said. “A lot of times, the teachers are having to spend their own money to buy classroom supplies.

“All of the teachers have been so appreciative whenever we help them out,” Parker added. “And that really makes you feel good about doing things like this.”

During the meeting, AT&T Pioneer volunteer group representative Peggy Burdette also surprised first-year Valley Elementary teacher Erin Hale with bags filled with items on the teacher’s “wish list.”

Hale was among many other teachers in the Birmingham metropolitan area who recently submitted a wish list to the Pioneer group. After receiving the wish lists, Pioneer volunteers reviewed them and chose 30 teachers in three different counties to receive the items on their lists.

“She is a new teacher here, and we know that first-year teachers really have a lot of needs in their classrooms,” said Burdette. “We really enjoy doing this, because the teachers are always so excited.”

Hale’s wish list included more than $100 worth of items like graph paper, material to make bags for her students, pens, highlighters, rulers and more.

“We know a lot of teachers are going through a hard time right now,” Burdette said. “I just really enjoy doing things like this.”