This 'feel-good' story about helping out a cash strapped teacher sends the wrong message about how our system is failing teachers.

Elisabeth Milich, like so many other teachers in the country, is paid much less than her worth.

She's a second grade teacher at Whispering Wind Academy in Phoenix, Arizona, a Title 1 school that serves low-income students and receives federal funding. In 2018, Milich's salary was $35,621.25, and since the funding her school receives is hardly ever enough to cover costs of the classroom supplies she needed to do her job, she'd often dip into her own pockets to make up the difference.


So, around the same time that #RedforEd — a teacher-driven movement calling for a 20% pay increase and better education funding — swept across Arizona state, Milich decided to take a bold stand: She shared her salary publicly on Facebook.

"I buy every roll of tape, every paper clip I use, every Sharpie I grade with, every snack I feed kids who don't have them, every decorated bulletin board, the list could go on. I love teaching! BUT...the reality is without my husband's income I could NEVER be an educator in this state!" her post read.

The post, which has since been taken down, quickly went viral, catching the attention of many a journalist. It also touched Ben Adam, a man from New York City who decided to reach out to Milich with a generous offer — he wanted to pay for her classroom supplies and snacks for the kids.

"I'm sensitive to the people that get the short end of the stick and without complaining," Adam told Good Morning America. "Teachers work very hard and don't get much in return."

Milich thought it was a wonderful, one-time gift, but Adam had other, loftier plans.

Not only has he fully supplied her classroom for the last two semesters, he's done the same for five other teachers in Phoenix. He even bought a butterfly farm for one of the classrooms.

And, in order to keep the giving going, he started a website last month called Classroom Giving, which opened up his teacher give-back mission to anyone who wants to contribute.

Unlike your average crowdfunding campaign, this website allows you to buy an item off an educator's wish list, just like a wedding or baby registry. It's then sent directly to them.

So far, about 12 teachers have received supplies, and Adam says he's since received requests from teachers in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and California.

Underpaid teachers and underfunded schools aren't only in Arizona, and give-back initiatives like this, while incredible, will not solve the systemic problem alone.

In 2018, hundreds of schools in both Arizona and Colorado had to close because so many teachers walked out in protest over their abysmal salaries and funding. According to Time Magazine, the 3.2 million full-time public school teachers in America today are experiencing the worst wage stagnation of any profession. As Milich succinctly put it to the New York Times, the education system in this country is "broken," and it's going to take more than a few generous individuals to fix it.

“I know educators in this state who are leaving the profession every day because they can't afford to live or because they're sick of the environment they're working in," she told the Times reporter.

If you believe education plays a crucial role in the future of this country, it's time to reach out to your government officials and fight for the people who are desperately trying to keep it afloat.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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