Carrollton resident Cathy Stearns had a vision of helping new teachers start their year out strong, and now she’s turning that dream into reality.
Stearns, a professor at the University of North Texas, started an effort called Teachers Helping Teachers: One Book at a Time and is hoping to give out books and supplies.
“I had this feeling that I needed to do something else,” Stearns said. “There was something inside me saying ‘OK, time to think about your next step.' I thought if I can pull this off and things come together then I want to create a pantry where I collected books and school supplies for new teachers.”
Stearns has about 6,000 books, many of them donations from other teachers. She said she’s a part of two Facebook groups for teachers, and people in the groups started to give away books they didn’t need. She began to collect them through the pages. Many of her former students gave her their unwanted books as well.
With thousands of books ranging from chapter books to e-readers available, Stearns has set up a day in July and August where any new teacher can come and fill up a bag of books to take with them. Teachers who are changing grade levels can bring their old books to exchange for new ones.
“It started out slowly, and now it’s crazy. I’ve gotten so many books,” Stearns said. “I’m pretty excited about the first day and everyone coming out getting books.”
A couple of years ago, Stearns got involved with training teachers in South Africa through a former student of hers. She said this effort and teaching at UNT led to this vision of helping other teachers.
“I think helping the teachers is also helping the students, and that’s the goal,” she said. “I think it’s so important for kids to read.”
Stearns said she wants to keep the effort going as long as she can. She’s planning to give out books in the fall and in the spring as well.
“I just think it’s great to be able to share the love of books with family, teachers and whoever I can,” Stearns said.