KOLOA — Soledad Negrillo kept insisting that a mistake had been made, yesterday.
Negrillo, a first grade teacher at Koloa School, was announced as “A Day Made Better” selection by Debbie Lindsey, the school’s principal, before a special surprise school-wide assembly.
Even when Negrillo went on stage to try her throne, a new leather desk chair that graced a large box containing about $1,000 in classroom supplies, including a new digital camera, she said it couldn’t be her.
“She’s been here a long time,” Lindsey said. “I think she’s in her 28th year of teaching here.”
The student body erupted in cheer, shrieks of joy and an outpouring of applause, further attesting Lindsey’s selection of Negrillo as being the right one for the honor.
“Soledad has been dedicated to the education of children for more than 27 years,” Lindsey said. “She is a life-long learner herself in efforts to continue to excel in instruction and provide experiences for children that will prepare them for their 21st century world.”
Lindsey added that Negrillo puts in countless hours beyond the regular school day in preparing lessons and attending school-related activities in the community.
“She is a pillar in the community,” an emotional Lindsey said in making the announcement.
Gary Towner, branch manager of the Hopaco/Office Max outlet here, said he understood how teachers spend an average of $1200 out-of-pocket for necessary classroom supplies because his mother was a teacher.
That fact was brought out when Lindsey prefaced her announcement, noting that OfficeMax founded “A Day Made Better” in response to the out-of-pocket funds being spent by teachers.
A press release from OfficeMax states that collectively, teachers spend nearly $4 billion annually to offset budget shortfalls based on a 2005 survey of 3.2 million members of the National Education Association.
This led OfficeMax to declare educators as its company-wide cause and is mobilizing more than 3,500 employees to conduct “A Day Made Better” to support teachers nationwide in an effort to generate public awareness to end “teacher-funded classrooms.”
Towner said this national program is the second one hosted by OfficeMax, and last year, teachers in Hawai‘i were included with the 1,300 teachers selected to be honored during “A Day Made Better.”
“This is the first year that Kaua‘i was included in the national program, and Negrillo is the first Kaua‘i teacher to be honored,” Towner said.
Lindsey said across the nation, 1,300 teachers, including five from Hawai‘i, are being honored just as Negrillo was honored.
The surprise visit format is part of “A Day Made Better,” so Koloa School had to plan a surprise assembly using emergency preparedness as the reason for the collective gathering in the cafeteria.
The surprise in-school ceremonies are part of the office supply retailer’s campaign to eliminate teacher-funded classrooms, especially during this time of extra economic burden on school districts across the nation, the release states.
OfficeMax partners with Adopt-A-Classroom, a nonprofit organization, to support teachers at schools across the country, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawai‘i and the Virgin Islands. “A Day Made Better” recognizes educators for their dedication and innovative approaches to education on this special day.
“A Day Made Better” was first conducted in October 2007, and attracted media headlines and emphasized community action which led to increases in donations to Adopt-A-Classroom. That amount was able to fund more than 10,000 classrooms, up from the 1,800 classrooms in 2006, the release states.
For more information, visit the Adopt-A-Classroom Web site at www.adoptaclassroom.org.
OfficeMax, no stranger to Koloa School students based on how many hands shot into the air when Lindsey queried, ‘How many of you know of OfficeMax?’, is a leader in both business-to-business office product solutions and retail office products.
On Kaua‘i, Hopaco/Office Max is located in the Lihu‘e Industrial Park across the street from Coca Cola of Kaua‘i.