Lately when you see educators in the media,sadly to say the report is not always good. Luckily this isnt the case for Brooke Varner,a high school teacher at Woodrow Wilson. In addition to her current good deeds for the stuents at Woodrow Wilson, Brooke has also been named Teacher of the Year by East Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
Brooke Varner has been a biology teacher at the Woodrow Wilson High School for 10 years and said a few years ago, she started to notice some of students didn’t have much to eat.In fact, several times, the only food they would get for the day would be from the school cafeteria.
“About two years ago, I was just buying ramen noodles and kids would come in and eat ramen noodles. I was like ‘gosh, we’ve got to do more,’” Varner said.
A year later, a parent approached her about starting a food bank for the students.Varner named it the “Woodrow Peace Pantry,” then enlisted the help of her students and the community.
“We have some families that had their electricity turned off, so they need food that is from a can that they can open,” she said. “We have a family living in a hotel right now that we’re just helping out until they can get back on their feet.”
According No Kid Hungry ,one in four children in Texas live in a household that struggles with hunger.
At Woodrow Wilson, what started as just a few cans of food has now turned into an entire pantry in Varner’s classroom.
Students who volunteer said they know the need is out there.
“Personally, I know there’s not always going to be a meal at home waiting. Just the fact that’s the problem and the fact we have an opportunity to help the problem,” said Woodrow junior Wendy Garcia-Ramirez, who volunteers with the pantry.
“I know people are shy, like I would be shy, too, if I didn’t have the food necessary, I would be embarrassed to go up to a friend and be like, ‘Oh, I need food or something,’” said Jennifer Saucedo, who is also a junior.
Varner said the pantry provides students the opportunity to discreetly take food home at night and on weekends.
Families can also contact the school for help. Varner admits hearing the stories behind the need can be difficult.
“That’s where it gets overwhelming. That’s just even hard to understand or comprehend,” she said.But it is always worth it.
Varner said feeding even one family makes a difference.The biggest thing she wants now is for other families, parents and teachers to examine their schools and if a similar program could help students.
Everyone can remember that one teacher that impacted their life in some way or another. Its because of that one teacher that went out of their way to care that made a difference in our lives. We are so grateful for Brooke Varner and everything she’s doing not only to teach the students at Woodrow Wilson High School,but the service she’s doing to build a great community. Yes Brooke is our inspiration this week! What are you doing to make a difference in your community?