Baltimore teacher receives boxes of school supplies after Kristen Bell's Instagram plea

As celebrities use their Internet fame to secure school supplies for students in need, a Baltimore teacher was among those chosen by actress Kristen Bell to help gather supplies for her fifth-graders.

The #10featuredteachers campaign, first launched on Instagram by singer Ed Droste of the indie band Grizzly Bear, encourages fans to send school supplies to teachers in poor neighborhoods. Celebrities, including Bell, have joined the cause by featuring teachers who could use supplies on their feeds and crowd sourcing supplies from followers.

In a post last week on the Instagram social media app, Bell asked teachers to message her with a picture of themselves, their story and an Amazon wish list for students for her to share with her followers.

“I think this is such an incredible way to get kids what they need and deserve and help the teachers that are fighting for everyone’s education,” Bell said in an Instagram video.

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A survey conducted by the Maryland State Education Association this year found that 91 percent of teachers in the state use their own money to buy school supplies.

Kristen Johnson, a teacher at Sinclair Lane Elementary School in Belair-Edison, was the first teacher Bell featured.

After a request for basic school supplies and umbrellas, Johnson received loads of boxes from people who contributed to a wish list for her fifth-grade students. A series of posts on Johnson’s Instagram feed show boxes of supplies stacked in the back of a pickup truck and throughout her home.

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“I got a call from the post office saying that I have a ton of packages waiting to be delivered and so much so that they need me to come pick them up because they said that I need basically a moving truck to get them all,” she said in one video post. “I actually can’t believe what’s happening.”

Her story was featured on CBS Evening News, with clips showing students gleefully unboxing tablets, erasers and other supplies.

Johnson’s Amazon wish list is still active and included items from school uniform shirts to ink cartridges and Amazon Fire tablets for kids.

Johnson could not be reached for comment Thursday after the principal of Sinclair Lane Elementary did not respond to a request from the city schools spokesperson.

Kristen Bell has subsequently posted requests from teachers in Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oregon and Texas.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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