Back to school season is rapidly approaching and across Canada and the USA: students, and parents and teachers are preparing for the school year ahead. From school supplies to preparing healthy snacks and lunches, there is so much to do. According to the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, “52% of teachers spend over $250 of their own money on school supplies and other items their students need to succeed.” This is why Emmy Award-winning actress and Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph partnered with MadeGood Foods (the makers of a range of organic, allergy-friendly, safe-for-school snacks) to launch the Share Some Good Fund.
MadeGood created the Share Some Good Fund to reward 2000 outstanding teachers across North America with $200 each to support the purchasing of school supplies for the year. From now until September 24, people across North America can nominate a teacher who has made a positive impact on their lives or their student’s lives, and who could use some financial help when it comes to school supplies.
We sat down with Sheryl to chat about why teachers need our help, what we can do in our communities, plus some of her favourite Canadian restaurants and snacks.
Why are teachers struggling?
It’s no secret that across North America, teachers are often underpaid and have to use their own funds to supply their classroom. “So many teachers are struggling with the ability to be able to buy and supplement the supplies needed to give all of their students a wonderful enriched education,” Sheryl tells us. “The fact that most [teachers] need a better living wage, a better salary, and then they’ve got to take money out of that salary to enrich their classroom… Something about this is not right to me! So when I was approached by MadeGood Foods and they said, ‘Listen, we’re going to give away $200,000 at the end of September, we’re going to choose 1000 teachers and give them an extra $200 to share in their classroom, on their classroom, helping them to get the supplies we’re talking about.’ It’s needed. It’s necessary!”
A great example of how much teachers can care for their students is Sheryl’s character on Abbott Elementary — Barbara Howard. In one episode, Barbara and another teacher see the need for healthy lunches in their school. So Barbara builds a garden at the school to grow fruits and vegetables for their students. And although Abbott Elementary is a TV show, this love and dedication that teachers have for their students is so real. “You’ve got to love education. You’ve got to love young people… to come to that classroom every day knowing that a lot of people just do not appreciate what it is you do… and that’s a fact” says Sheryl.
We give teachers the hearts and souls, the minds of our future — which would be our children.
On top of school supplies, another thing that is needed in schools is healthy snacks and lunches. “Healthy snacks means everything,” says Sheryl. “One of the greatest things you can do is get your kids understanding there’s good food out there!”
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How can I help a teacher near me?
Until September 24, anyone can go to the Share Some Good Fund website to nominate a teacher to get $200 towards school supplies thanks to MadeGood Foods. “We encourage everybody to go there and nominate a teacher,” says Sheryl. “You can nominate this week, next week, the week after, you can nominate all the way up to the last week in September when the drawing is going to happen.”
And don’t just stop by nominating a teacher! When we asked Sheryl how communities can support their local teachers beyond the Share Some Good Fund, she said “get involved in the schools!”
What can parents do to help?
“We need parents to do their job as well. We need them to double down on their parenting,” she continues. “Follow up on your child’s success. Help your child be the success that they can be. There are a lot of children across this continent who are full of possibilities. But somebody has to look at them and let them know: ‘you are beautifully and wonderfully made and I believe in you’. People did that for me over and over, and I’ve got it in my mind that I know I can.”
You are beautifully and wonderfully made and I believe in you.
What snacks does MadeGood Foods make?
MadeGood Foods is best known for their granola bars, granola bites, oat bars, cookies, crackers and squares — the perfect addition to any lunchbox. Which one is Sheryl’s favourite? “I love the cinnamon morning bars!”
What are Sheryl Lee Ralph’s favourite Canadian foods?
Between hosting Ted Talks, writing books, starring in Abbott Elementary and supporting the Share Some Good Fund: Sheryl is a very busy force. But whenever she is in Canada, Sheryl is sure to stop by her favourite foodie spots and stock up on her favourite Canadian snacks. “I’ve worked so long and often in Toronto, my phone thinks I’m Canadian!”
But one of Sheryl’s favourite Canadian restaurants is actually on the West Coast in Vancouver. Although she is now a pescatarian, Sheryl cannot resist the Wagyu burger from BC burger spot Bin4. She is also always on the hunt for the perfect poutine whenever she is in Canada, and always stocks up on her favourite Canadian snacks whenever she is in town. “Our chocolate in the States tends to be a bit waxier. Here, yours is much creamier. If you buy Cadbury or Hershey up here, it’s a whole other experience!”
Sheryl also raves about Canadian potato chips, especially the infamous all-dressed chips. “Your potato chips…. Once I discovered the doggone all dressed chips.” She throws her hands in the air and says “Oh my gosh! They’re just so good!” She takes home bags of the classic Canadian chip along with her favourite cereal: Red River!
We think we should also claim Sheryl as an honourary Canadian, as she admits to swapping out jams and jellies for maple syrup! We asked if she has ever tried putting it in her coffee, and she responded with, “have you ever poured maple syrup on your bacon?” Sounds like a Canadian to us!
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