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Aurora teacher receives school supply surprise
By Marie Wilson | Daily Herald Staff

Keth Ferrell, a teacher at Indian Prairie Unit District 204's Gombert Elementary School in Aurora, gets some help from his students digging through a full box of supplies Tuesday presented to him by a team from OfficeMax.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Keth Ferrell, a second-grade teacher at Gombert Elementary School in Aurora, received supplies worth more than $1,000 Tuesday from OfficeMax.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/5/2010 5:08 PM

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In 10 years as a teacher, Keith Ferrell has spent his own money on items such as an easel, a reading bench, a comfy chair, books, bins and educational posters for his second-grade students at Gombert Elementary School in Aurora.

But Tuesday morning, Ferrell got a copy machine, pencils, binders, glue, index cards and other school supplies worth a total of $1,000 all for free.

"I'm surprised right now. I had no clue this was coming," Ferrell said. "I feel like it's my birthday."

Ferrell was one of 1,000 teachers nationwide to receive a school supply surprise from OfficeMax and the nonprofit Adopt-A-Classroom in the third year of the "A Day Made Better" supply donation event.

Carolyn Brooks, OfficeMax's vice president and chief diversity officer, and eight other company employees carried a large box with Ferrell's supplies, as well as a smaller box with rubber-band balls for each student, into the classroom to begin the surprise.

"We chose Mr. Ferrell because he has been nominated by the school as a teacher that has the passion and the innovation to make sure you have a good school year," Brooks told Ferrell's class of about 20 students. "We want to do what we can at OfficeMax to make sure he doesn't have to spend his own money."

Teachers are given a supply account from Gombert Elementary's building fund, but often supplement what they can purchase with those funds by spending their own money, Principal Jeremy Ricken said. Posters, wall decorations and daily job boards are almost always teacher-purchased.

"Pretty much anything you see on the walls I bought," Ferrell said, looking at posters about teamwork and vowel sounds.

Ferrell is the second teacher at Gombert to receive donated supplies from through "A Day Made Better," Ricken said. The school, built in 1998, has 498 students in 22 class sections this year.