Riverview Chamber to help new teachers get a running start on school year

Aug. 4 Teaching to Excellence breakfast provides new teachers with needed supplies and a few gifts.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF HUTH & BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY:
Riverview High School cheerleaders welcome guests each year to the Teaching to Excellence breakfast for new teachers. This is Riverview High School Principal Danielle Shotwell arriving at the 2016 breakfast.

BY YVETTE C. HAMMETT

New teachers start their careers with small paychecks, big expectations and eye-opening expenses.

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce lends a hand each year by providing them with school supplies, gifts and plenty of love from the community. Chamber members are ramping up to do it again this year, hosting the annual Teaching to Excellence Breakfast Aug. 4 at The Regent.

The chamber is still accepting gift baskets with a value of at least $50, as well as gift cards for the teachers.

New teachers from the area’s 25 public and charter schools, along with each school’s teacher of the year and principal are invited to join chamber members for a lavish breakfast feast, an opportunity to win gift baskets and gift cards, to load up on school supplies offered by local businesses and to feel that love.

“The purpose of this event is simple,” said Chamber Executive Director Tanya Doran. “Each year the chamber organizes this event to warmly welcome new teachers from each of our 25 local public and charter schools. We also honor each school’s teacher of the year. They are usually announced in February every year, and this is our way to recognize them on a community level.”

“This event is an easy ask,” said breakfast chair Kendra Wilson, service center manager for the Suncoast Credit Union in Riverview. “This cause has been going on for more than a decade, and everyone is very enthusiastic because everyone is touched by a teacher. It is not hard to ask. Everyone is willing to give.”

“This is something that we are very proud of, is that this event is all about the teachers,” Doran said. “We give each new teacher a shopping bag, a very large bag, full of school supplies. We have about 50 raffle prizes that only teachers will win.

“We do this because we understand that as a teacher, they often spend an average of $1,500 out of their own pocket to prepare for the beginning of school and to help students who may not have the proper supplies. It’s our thank-you for doing what they are doing.”

Last year’s breakfast. Huth & Booth Photography

Some 40 local businesses will set up vendor-style booths at The Regent to offer teachers flash drives, notebook paper, composition books, copy paper, pens, pencils and more.

“If they notice a student is missing something, doesn’t have the tools to be successful, many times, teachers are purchasing supplies out of their own pockets,” Doran said. “This is a way to support teachers so they don’t have to dig out their own money.”

The chamber organizes this event, but couldn’t do what it does without the assistance of the local business community, Wilson said. Members really step up for this morning event.

There will be an emcee to entertain the 300 or so guests while they enjoy their catered breakfast.

“We introduce the teachers of the year and we encourage the new teachers to emulate them,” Doran said. “This is all on a community level.

“Hillsborough County does a great job doing this countywide. But this event is taking it down to the grassroots level.”

“They are the unsung heroes,” Wilson said. “And we are very appreciative. This year, we went around and asked people to donate school supplies. We have 45 businesses that have stepped up and offered to donate school supplies. Some also did a personal gift, like a day spas pass or a gift card to Little Harbor Resort.”

Anyone interested in donating a gift basket can contact the chamber prior to Aug. 4 at 813-234-5944.

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