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Teacher surprised with free supplies
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Peter Braun, left, pushes the box of supplies as from left, Rene Westray, Carla Gravitt, husband Paul Wynn and Kristi Kimbrell head to Laura Wynn’s classroom Tuesday at Matt Elementary School. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Laura Wynn began her fourth-grade reading class at Matt Elementary School by grabbing some paper, a pack of staples, dry erase crayons — and about $1,000 worth of other supplies.

Most years, these supplies would come out of her personal budget. On Tuesday, however, she got a little help from OfficeMax.

Wynn, along with about 1,000 other teachers nationwide, was chosen to receive $1,000 worth of supplies for the classroom through OfficeMax’s “A Day Made Better” event.

“Teachers spend on average about $1,000 a year,” said Cumming OfficeMax Store Manager Peter Braun. “This is our fifth year doing this and it’s great.

“It’s a couple of hours out of a day that we know we made a classroom and a school happy.”

With a gift box large enough to fit a student — or two — Braun, Wynn’s husband Paul and other school and OfficeMax officials entered Wynn’s classroom to the surprise of her and her students.

“This is like Christmas,” said Wynn as she and the students dug into the box, pulling supplies like note cards, binders and paper clips.

“Unfortunately, especially nowadays with the economy this way and the budget being cut, we had less money provided to us at the beginning of the year to buy supplies like [dry erase] markers or crayons or just the basic stuff that we normally would have received,” she said. “... So this is huge, huge.”

Wynn, one of three finalists for the school system’s special education teacher of the year for 2009-10, was nominated for the supplies prize by Kristi Kimbrell, administrative secretary.

“She’s an awesome teacher,” Kimbrell said. “She’s very involved with her students. She loves what she does. She loves her students. She was the first one that we thought of.

“She just stands out in everything she does. She’s there for the kids, she’s there for the teachers and she’s there for anyone that needs help.”

Braun, who manages the store on 1300 Market Place Blvd. in Cumming, said his vendors helped him pick out the supplies for the prize.

The store also had some help from Adopt-A-Classroom, OfficeMax’s nonprofit partner that co-founded the event.

“We try to pick items that are going to be used in the classroom, so there’s a lot of thought put into this,” Braun said. “It’s the highlight of the year to be able to come out and do this. It’s a lot of fun.

“But I think the biggest thing is that we’re really just helping in the community. That’s really what it’s about for us.”

Wynn said the most valuable items she received were boxes of staples and 2,500 sheets of printer paper.

“Believe it or not, it’s the simple things that make teachers really, really happy,” she said. “A lot of it is stuff I couldn’t afford
to use. I budget out of my own money so much a month to spend extra on school supplies, so this is going to help tremendously to save me personally some money.”

Not everything in the giant box was strictly for the classroom. Wynn was all smiles when she dug up a digital camera.

“That was awesome,” she said. “It’s just all so overwhelming.”