BUFFALO — A local teacher was recognized for her work in the classroom with an award of free school supplies and a salute from her favorite NFL team.
Buffalo Elementary fourth-grade teacher Donna Long was selected as the Carolina Panthers and FSI Teacher of the Week.
For the third year in a row, the Carolina Panthers and FSI (Forms & Supply Inc.) Office are conducting their Teacher of the Week program. The program allows customers and employees of FSIoffice to nominate teachers who excel in the classroom and create a passion for learning among their students.
All nominees receive gift boxes with a variety of supplies to use in their classroom, and each weekly winner receives an additional supply of classroom items and two tickets to the Dec. 9 Panthers home game against the Atlanta Falcons.
“It was a complete surprise,” Long said.
She explained that the district sent out an email about the award approximately three weeks ago.
“I was at home one night working on school work and reading my email,” Long said. “To be honest, at school I don’t always go to all those links, but that night I looked at it. It said even if you were just nominated, you would receive a free box of school supplies. As teachers, we need all the school supplies we can get.”
While she was reading the email, Long’s son, Charlie, was sitting at the other end of the table, and he decided to nominate his mom.
“Last week, our assistant principal went around to the four teachers from Buffalo who were nominated, and each one of us got a nice box of school supplies,” Long said. “I assumed that was it. Then, on Monday, we had just finished indoor recess and all of a sudden, my door opened and Ms. Inman came in, which is not unusual, but then behind her, (District Superintendent) Dr. Woodall came in. Then, in walked (District Finance Officer) Lynn Lawson, and then a man I did not know came in. Then my husband (Jamie) and Charlie came in and I knew something was definitely up because Charlie was supposed to be in school. Then, Mr. Lyles — Charlie’s principal — came in, and I’m sitting there looking at them thinking, ‘What’s going on?’”
That is when Woodall told Long she had been selected at the Teacher of the Week.
“I could not believe that,” Long said. “It absolutely floored me.”
The man Long didn’t recognize was a representative from FSI, who explained to Long that she had been selected from over 1,000 applicants from five states by a committee formed by the Carolina Panthers organization.
“I just thought they pulled your name out of a hat, but he explained that they actually have a committee, and they sit down and read all those nominations,” Long said.
Long received a box of school supplies, a case of paper, and two tickets to a Carolina Panthers game where she will be recognized for her efforts as an educator.
“We really like the Panthers at our house,” she said. “Ever since the Panthers were founded, my husband and I always followed them, and our boys are real big Panther fans. I take them to summer training camp in Spartanburg a lot during the summer.”
Each week of the Panthers regular season through the Dec. 9 game, a winner will be chosen. From the 13 weekly winners, a Teacher of the Year will be chosen and recognized at the game and given a desk chair, laptop computer and projector for his or her classroom.
“FSIoffice recognizes the need for greater support and increased funding for teachers and schools,” FSIoffice said in a statement. “The goal of the Teacher of the Week program is to give back to the teachers that give to the children in our community every day. The program has had great success in its first two years — with 573 nominees last year — and hopes to have high levels of participation again this time around.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.