Local business helps connect teachers with donors

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Jody Cullers needs $376.80 to supply her eighth grade science class at Rockingham Middle School with three new triple beam balances.

“My students conduct inquiry based lessons to understand concepts and solve real world problems,” Cullers wrote on the site DonorsChoose.org. “They will use the triple beam balances to grasp an understanding of the conversation of mass as well as other concepts critical a successful year in science.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Norma King demonstrates several successful campaigns by local teachers to fund school projects or the purchase of new equipment through DonorsChoose.org.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Norma King demonstrates several successful campaigns by local teachers to fund school projects or the purchase of new equipment through DonorsChoose.org.

Cullers explains her financial need is in part based on the makeup of Richmond County and the need for her students to experience classroom exercises that enrich their understanding of the subject.

“My students live in a rural area without many resources. We are a Title I school where all students receive a free breakfast and lunch. Most students do have outside experiences that include a science connection. A lot of the students in my class have never been outside of their hometown let alone the state of North Carolina.”

And for every Jody Cullers, said Norma King, there’s a dozen or more local teachers that don’t know about DonorsChoose.org. That’s where she comes in. As a local agent for Horace Mann Insurance, a financial services institution geared towards educators, King and newly hired licensed producer Daniel Wright work to ensure not only educators are covered by necessary insurance policies outside of the classroom for their personal lives, but also help teachers make it easier to reach out to the community to solicit needs for special projects where the local governments’ budgets come up short.

“Funding has just been cut to the bone,” said Wright, sympathizing with teachers.

Cullers at Rockingham Middle is the only Richmond County teacher with an active campaign. However, campaigns by teachers at Hamlet and Rohanen middle schools, as well as West Rockingham Elementary Schools, also have been fully funded in recent years. Supplies or equipment in approved fundraising campaigns include cheerleading uniforms, desks, iPads and computer headphones.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Daniel Wright, left, put a 20-year career in the mental health field in his rearview mirror to join Norma King in her Rockingham office of her Horace Mann Insurance Agency.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Daniel Wright, left, put a 20-year career in the mental health field in his rearview mirror to join Norma King in her Rockingham office of her Horace Mann Insurance Agency.

Making a contribution to the greater good, Wright said, is what made it easy for him to leave what seemed to be a lifelong profession.

“It pulled me away from a 20-year career in mental health,” Wright said.

Wright began working full-time for King in July at their East Franklin Street office. Wright said he saw an opportunity make an immediate impact in the lives of teachers and their students.

Each Horace Mann agent authorizes a deduction of about $50 each pay period that goes to teachers within their service area, Wright said.

“All teachers have to do is apply for it,” he said.

The agency also announces a Crystal Apple Award winner each year. The award is passed from teacher to teacher as a symbol of excellence inside the classroom.

The insurance services are a way to network with educators, Wright said, “but that’s business. On the personal side, we’re gonna help you in the classroom.”

Horace Mann Insurance is one of the largest multiline agencies in the country, but it’s the local touch that has King and Wright succeeding in the Richmond County area. King began her insurance career in 1986 and came to Horace Mann in 1995. She took a leave of absence in 2006 and 2007 before resuming her career with Horace Mann Insurance.

King noted that she and Wright “get nothing” from helping teachers navigate available resources such as DonorsChoose.org, of which Horace Mann Insurance is a national sponsor. So why put in the effort?

Because, King said, “a lot of them don’t know about it.”

 

Filed in: Business, Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines

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