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Teachers in Cumming deliver supplies to students homes
Backpack
As a way to introduce students to their teachers and give them some supplies in a backpack with their schools logo, volunteers from Forsyth Central High, Otwell Middle and Cumming Elementary went door to door one day last week as part of Project Connect. The effort was billed as an opportunity to make a personal connection in the schools community. - photo by Micah Green

CUMMING — Teachers at three schools went door to door to meet students Thursday, and they came bearing gifts.

As a way to introduce students to their teachers and give them some goodies in a backpack with their school’s logo, volunteers spanned Forsyth Central High, Otwell Middle and Cumming Elementary during Project Connect.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to make a personal connection with our families in this particular cluster,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden. “So many staff members were willing to volunteer their time to go out and meet these families and make sure they know we’re excited for their kids to arrive next Thursday.”

Most school-aged children who attend one of the three schools in Cumming received a backpack filled with supplies donated mostly by United Way of Forsyth County’s Stuff the Bus campaign and Cumming First United Methodist Church, according to Amy Gamez, social worker for the three-school cluster.

“We have about 325 teachers … going to about 375 homes, which covers about 775 students,” Gamez said. “The bags are filled with basic school supplies: paper, pencils, crayons for kindergartners. The basics to get them started and get them excited about the school year.”

She said the goal of the program is for teachers and students to connect in a more personal way than may be possible in the classroom.

Educators, from teachers to parent involvement coordinators to assistant principals, went in groups of three-five to each house.

Some doors would open to welcoming arms and invitations to see their room or toys. Many faces showed shock and happiness at the realization that their teacher was delivering them school supplies to their door before school even started.

“It’s good to see their background and what they’re dealing with when they’re at home, so when I get irked they don’t do their homework, I know what the situation is,” said Carol Swegman, a 16-year veteran of sixth-grade science at Otwell Middle.

They’re the people you run into at the store and around town, so interaction does not have to be limited to classroom time.

“We have a school board member [Ann Crow] walking with us, asking them if they like music,” said Marlo Miranda, Forsyth Central High’s automotive technology teacher of 12 years and the most recent Forsyth County Teacher of the Year. “Where else do you get that?

“You learn things about your students you didn’t know until you get out there. And they see us willing to go to their house to give them supplies, so it makes them more excited.”