Teacher in Orange Park makes big difference for students

Teacher in Orange Park makes big difference for students

FILE PHOTO: Moms are coming up with their own ways to celebrate the silence of kids going back to school.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Clay County teacher is working beyond the walls of her classroom to help her students. Orange Park Junior High School science teacher Kassie Kirkland has helped create a Needs Board to give student basic necessities.

"You see shoes or shoelaces are broken, or a broken backpack. Kids that don't have glasses and say they need glasses. Constantly, kids are like, I'm hungry, and you want to give them food," Kirkland said.

This is her first year teaching. Already she said she has formed a bond with her students and a way to help those in need.

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"There's a lot more than just coming to school and teaching these kids. They spend so much time with you, and me as a teacher, I spend so much time with these kids that you really do, you love them, you want to give them the best possible. For them to succeed, they need to have those basic needs met," Kirkland said.

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Kirkland worked with two colleagues, a substitute teacher and an intern, to create the Needs Board.

This is where students can leave an anonymous note asking for an item. They must also include their student identification number so the teacher can follow up. So far, posts have been made for jackets, shoes, warm socks, glasses and school supplies.

"Seeing a need within the school and wanting to be able to give back, and knowing there's more and we can do it, that made us realize we can help out and not just during a certain time of the year but year-round," Kirkland said.

She said she is using her own resources to buy these items. However, other teachers, staff and parents are now starting to help and donate items.

The Clay County District spokesperson said anyone can provide monetary donations, new clothing, nonperishable food and school supplies to the front office. Notes won't be shared with the public in any way.

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