CLEVELAND — As teachers across Northeast Ohio prepare their classrooms for students, many instructors reach into their own pockets to purchase school supplies.
According to surveys conducted by Adopt A Classroom, teachers spent an average of $750 on school supplies out of pocket during the 2020-2021 school year, compared to an average of $600 in 2015.
In response to this, News 5 teamed up with Meijer to take your submissions to find one local teacher who was deserving of a back-to-school shopping spree. That teacher was surprised with the announcement this week.
Our winner: Renee Cerny, of St. Rocco Elementary School.
Cerny has been teaching for 35 years with the last four years of her career being spent at St. Rocco, a Parish she attended as a child herself. Cerny didn’t always want to get into teaching, initially going to school to become a doctor but quickly changed paths when she realized the impact you can have on a child’s life.
Watch Cerny go on a shopping spree for her school:
“Kids need you. They want to pleas you and they want to learn. And they need people to help them do that. That was enough for me,” Cerny said. “They need people to love them. They need people to car about them. They need people to value them.”
A mother of two, Cerny is also inspiring the next generation of educators as her daughter has also made teaching her life’s work.
“It makes me really proud. She is a natural teacher,” Cerny said. “What I find kind of humorous is when I go to watch her teach, she sounds like I teach when I taught in the classroom.”
Renee’s husband, Richard, was the one who nominated her for the shopping spree. Courtesy of Meijer, she will receive $750 in gift cards to purchase back-to-school supplies for the 145 students in her school from grade K-8. Having a front-row seat to three decades of dedication, Richard felt there was no one more deserving than his wife.
“People don’t understand what they go through. With COVID the last couple years. The parents, the kids. I’m always proud of her,” Richard said. “These kids mean everything to her. Sometimes I know I come in second or third place. The kids are the most important thing to her.”
The couple has been together for more than 30 years, leaning on each other through thick and thin. Richard helped organize News 5’s surprise for Renee, ensuring the secret never slipped.
“He (Richard) always helps out. Whatever I need him to do in the bounding. He just painted my office for me.Moves furniture. Does whatever I need,” said Renee. “That’s how I knew he was a keeper 34 years ago. My first summer he helped me move my books in my first classroom.”
Cerny said a simple "thank you" can go a long way as a teacher, but the biggest reward is seeing what her students become after leaving the classroom.
“You see the seeds you’ve planted have finally grown,” Renee said. “You also see they grow up and become those productive, wonderful people you knew they were going to be, but they didn’t know they were going to be.
To help with back-to-school expenses, Meijer is offering an expanded version of its year-long coupon that applies the 15%discount to extra categories essential to supporting teachers’ family budgets through Sept. 5. These extra categories include children’s apparel, shoes and cleaning supplies.
Continuing Sept. 6 through the end of this school year, Meijer will offer a 15%coupon on school supplies and home office products.
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