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A woman is helping teachers prepare to go back to school through an online support group

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FORT WAYNE Ind. (WPTA21) - A woman named Heathyr Harkless is helping Allen County teachers prepare for the upcoming school year. Harkless created a Facebook support group to help get teachers supplies and share appreciation for them during the pandemic.  

“I cry everyday reading the posts just knowing these teachers are walking into a difficult time right now,” Harkless said.  

The group is called “Amazing Teachers (Allen County, K-12)” and was created around two weeks ago. Harkless says she wanted to show appreciation for area teachers going through a tough time.  

She says the group is not just for helping teachers get school supplies, members can send words of encouragement to show how much they appreciate their work. 

“It’s incredible, such a blessing that these teachers can be a part of this and that they can get these blessings,” Harkless said. “They're not just in gift form they're in the form of words hearing from other teachers and other students.” 

Teachers in the group can share an Amazon Wish List of items they need for their classroom. Then other members in the group can purchase these items to help them prepare for the upcoming school year.  

Harkless says over 200 teachers have received gifts out of over 2,300 members in the group. 

“We are providing them with the grace that they need to get back into being a student,” Lauren Loy is an eighth-grade teacher in Allen County, she says preparing to go back to school this year is unlike any other. “What a student was five months ago is very different from what it will be in a couple of weeks.” 

Fourth grade teacher Portia Coe says the group has helped her in a number of ways. She says all of the items on her wish list were gifted to her already, so she’s planning to give back to some other teachers in the same way. 

“There are tears every day because you get these wonderful messages like you were my favorite teacher, or you're making a difference, you can do this, and we need to hear that right now," Coe said. “Just being able to do something in preparation for the school year was very important for me mentally.” 

Harkless says people in other counties, such as Wells and Elkhart, have reached out to her to create a similar in their area. Her teacher support group is now spreading all across northern Indiana, and even into Michigan she said.  

Students and teachers in most Allen County school districts will return to the classrooms or begin virtual learning in the next couple of weeks.  

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Karli VanCleave

Karli VanCleave is a multimedia journalist at WPTA for the evening newscast. Karli is a Fort Wayne native and Indiana University Bloomington graduate.
Feel free to connect with her on Facebook (@KarliVanCleaveNews) and Twitter (@Karli_VanCleave), or if you have a story idea send her an email at kvancleave@wpta21.com.

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