Lockhart Elementary teacher Earline Mills-Jolly was in the middle of a lesson Tuesday morning when she was distracted by a knock at her first-grade classroom door.
As she paused to see who was there, her face twisted in surprise when a group of about 20 people, led by Lockhart Principal Audrey Bowry, burst in bearing $1,000 in gifts – from crayons and folders to a new office chair – for the classroom.
The teacher stood still as Bowry announced that Mills-Jolly was being honored by Office Max, the company whose “A Day Made Better Initiative” is meant to recognize dedicated teachers across the nation who exhibit passion and innovation in the classroom.
Along with the $1,000 donated by the store, the school also received four boxes of supplies donated by Office Max customers through an ongoing supply drive.
Bowry and other teachers said that Mills-Jolly’s name was submitted at the end of the last school year.
“I can think of no one else that truly deserves this,” Bowry said. “Mrs. Mills-Jolly is one of our most dedicated teachers, who really puts time into working with the students so that they can perform at their grade level. Her work is foundational – she is one of those teachers that give everything they have.”
A teacher for the past 20 years, Mills-Jolly said Tuesday that she has often reached into her own pockets for the money needed to buy classroom supplies for students and only recently started to save receipts to give back to the school.
“All of these things will definitely be put to good use,” she said, as Bowry and Office Max employees encouraged her and her students to examine the boxes to see what was inside.
Along with crayons, folders, markers and other stationary items, the Office Max boxes contained everything from computer software to flash drives.
“I’m so happy for her,” said Anthony Jolly, Mills-Jolly’s husband, after the presentation. “For years, our home has been like an office, with my wife always working on projects for the students. Her passion for them is continuous, and I’m elated that she has gotten this recognition and some more of the resources she needs.”