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Fort Worth group helping educators and parents get creative for hands-on virtual learning

The Welman Project is known for creatively re-purposing office materials into school supplies and giving them to educators for free

FORT WORTH, Texas — For years now, The Welman Project has been the go-to for North Texas educators who are seeking school supplies at no cost to them.

"We collect surplus materials from the community and we re-purpose those materials for use in the classrooms," said co-founder Vanessa Barker back in 2019.

This year, the Fort Worth non-profit is still the go-to, but now, for even more.

"Everything's changing day-to-day, week-to-week, so we're just kind of rolling with it," Barker said Wednesday.

You see, not only are they still supplying teachers with creative classroom material from their warehouse on an appointment-only basis, they're now also working with educators on how to make virtual learning as enriching as in-person learning. 

It's not an easy task.

Texas families have the option to choose either in Texas for the 2020-2021 school year.

RELATED: How will your kids go back to school? Here are your options 

"We know for those younger grades that hands-on learning is so important," Barker said. "What can we do for hands-on learning in an online world?"

So in true "Wellie" spirit, they're coming up with ideas that teachers can easily explain, and parents can easily implement, with minimal cost. Barker is pulling from her own experience with her daughter this spring, when schools shut down.

"We had spelling tests," Barker said. "Well, how can we make this more interesting? Well, we got dry erase markers and we actually drew on our kitchen tile. It does come off! But test on a small area first."

Another idea she's suggesting to teachers and parents?

"A baking sheet can be a magnet board," Barker suggested. 

Or this.

"The best way to learn math is to cook. The best way to learn fractions is just to cook with your family," she said, adding she's teaching her daughter fractions through making pancakes.

Barker added that teachers are also having to seek extra supplies this year, both for sanitary reasons (so children don't share items) and also to send to children's homes. In June alone, The Welman Project says they helped 93 educators and non-profit staff by giving out nearly $65,000 worth of supplies.

Educator and parent needs have changed this year, but The Welman Project is up for the challenge. And they urge people to remember teachers will be doing the best they can under these uncharted circumstances.

Click the following link to donate or to get help: http://thewelmanproject.org/


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