When you were a child, being a teacher seemed like one of the easiest and best occupations you could have. They get to tell everyone what to do and if you didn't listen, even your mom was on their side. They could sit in cool lounges and students would do almost anything to make it on the teacher's good list.
However, once you grew up and it was time to pick a career, being a teacher becomes more of a debate. It's no secret that they are overworked and underpaid. Suddenly 'shaping the minds of tomorrow' doesn't seem so glorious. This is the point Elisabeth Milich was trying to make when she posted her low salary online but the outcome was beyond her wildest imagination.
Elisabeth Milich is an elementary school teacher in Arizona and has been for over 20 years. Upon receiving her raise for the new year, she decided she couldn't keep it to herself. The amount was so unbelievably low, to begin with, let alone the tiny raise she was given.
Her salary slip read that she had received an annual raise of $131,25. "I actually laughed when I saw the old salary vs. the new one," she said. "I mean really, I need a college degree to make this?" She decided to post a picture of her salary online and never expected the response she would get.
She began to receive a bit of hate mail claiming that she was wallowing in self-pity. "Some were calling me a liar, saying there's no way that's all a teacher makes," she said. "The other half said, 'You knew what you were getting into, so don't complain.'"
What bothered her even more was that teachers also had to buy their own supplies, stuff like paper, crayons and more. Moreover, the job of teaching and caring for children is not a position that deserves to be underpaid.
It was not long before Elisabeth's post went viral.
After a few months of her post going viral, she received a message in her Facebook Messenger that blew her away. A total stranger reached out to her to say that he had seen her post and would like to pay for her supplies. He asked her to send him a detailed list and he would buy everything on it. It was right then an entire movement was born.
"I would love to meet this man," Milich said. "I would love to give him a hug. He asked if there were other teachers who needed this and he ended up adopting five more colleagues of mine."
"He simply said 'Has anybody offered to buy supplies for your classroom?' I wrote him back and said, 'No,'" Milich recalls. "He wrote back and said, ‘I would like to purchase any supplies that you need for your classroom.’ I just thought that was so crazy and there’s gotta be a catch because this man lives in New York."
Ben Adam is a 59-year-old businessman in New York thought it was absurd "that someone who's been teaching for 20 years has to buy their own supplies," he said. "Plus they are underpaid and overworked."
He started a website called Classroom Giving, where teachers could write their supplies for their classroom and someone could buy it for them like a registry.
Within days, Amazon boxes began to arrive filled with all the supplies Elisabeth had asked for. She had more than enough of the stationary and other equipment that she needed. The children in her class came to know Ben as the 'New York Friend'. They even sent him a poster to say thank you.
This poster has since become a staple for the website. More and more viewers are getting involved and more teachers are signing up. To think that Ben and Elisabeth were only strangers before he began helping her kind of restores your faith in humanity, right?
"I know nothing about him except he has a huge heart when it comes to teachers," Milich said. "This is all him. This is his work and his heart."
"I knew there was something about this idea that was unique," Ben said. "But I didn't expect to get this kind of reaction."