Kristin Booker • August 31, 2009

Too Cool for School: Teachers Rule at the Jones New York In The Classroom Photo Shoot

photo credit: Craig Ruttle

Last week, I spent a lovely morning with the fantastic folks of Jones New York and their Style Guy, celebrity stylist and TV personality Lloyd Boston as they prepared for a photo shoot with the winners of the Jones New York In The Classroom’s 2009 Back To School, Back To Style! national contest. Spending the morning with these worthwhile winners and the professionals who shot them touched me, heart and soul.

Have you ever heard of this worthwhile program? Here’s a little information: Jones New York In The Classroom is the label’s major philanthropy and through a partnership with Macy’s and Adopt-A-Classroom (the charity that enables teachers and their students to get the school supplies they need via your generous donations), they select seven very worthy teachers from across the country every year for some serious love and pampering. These lovely women are whisked to New York City, where they receive a $1500 Jones New York wardrobe from Macy’s, and a photo shoot where they were given the VIP treatment with professional hair, makeup and personally styling with Lloyd Boston. The lucky winners also have their classrooms adopted and their school receives $1000.

These amazing women from Chicago, New York, San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, Tampa and
Portland were over the moon with the hair and makeup options (a few of them said they never wear makeup) and the clothes were just spectacular. The photo shoot was so inspiring to watch and really touched my heart. I was honored to watch these unsung heroes become the center of attention and get the praise and attention they so rightly deserved. The lucky winners are:

photo credit: Craig Ruttle

  • Karen Vanderveen (San Francisco Bay Area) has been teaching for 18 years and works with “underserved and underperforming elementary students who have the difficult task of not only learning grade level material, but also a new language.”
  • Jordan Whitcomb (Tampa, Florida – MacDill AFB)fosters a “warm, rich learning environment,” which features 16 live animals (from chinchilla to bearded dragons), rugs, pillows and books purchased with her own money.
  • Imelda Souchet (Chicago)has been teaching for 20 years and teaches her students everything from the importance of performing arts – including a spectacular production of “The Wizard of Oz,” – to leadership and discipline by helping them create a student council with by-laws and a government body.
  • Bhavna Rawal (Houston)receives countless praise for her “Green Club,”which teaches students about building and using alternative energy resources in model homes.
  • Doreen Murphy (New York) is described as the cornerstone of her school and community, with her involvement in a penny harvest, Box Tops for Education, and collecting donations for food pantries on Staten Island.
  • Deb McGowan (Portland, Ore.) spent two years taking night classes to earn an additional teaching endorsement for English as a Second Language (ESL), just so that she could better reach her students.
  • Roberdia Diane Irving (St. Louis) earned her master’s degree in organizational management in business and has been teaching for 30 years. She’s a member of school-related programs such as Gateway Elementary School’s Caring School Community Team, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, and Community Character-Plus Team. She is also certified as a state foster and adoption parent.

I was saddened to learn that most teachers leave the profession within five years, citing “lack of community support” and that they give thousands of dollars (which they don’t have to begin with) to make sure their classrooms are properly stocked and their students have the supplies they need. People, education is ALWAYS in style so PLEASE support your local teachers. Adopt-A-Classroom is a fantastic organization and will make sure that 100% of any donation, no matter how small, goes into an account for the classroom YOU select. The charity provides discounts through selected vendors like Office Max to provide these products at lower cost, then will drop ship them directly to the teacher of your choice.

Thanks to Jones New York for the opportunity to attend this photo shoot and to learn about this worthwhile program. I found the day inspiring, full of fun and – I’m sure the teachers will appreciate this – educational. Please help support your teachers and schools. Giving back is always a beautiful choice.


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