October 18, 2013 / Fall 2013 / Teaching Moments

Yearbook Angels are everywhere

Written by Kathy Beers

I watched Connor slide a stapled packet of notebook paper across the table to the girls in his art class. One of them picked it up abruptly and flipped it over, inspecting it.

“What’s this? Am I supposed to sign this?”

He shyly moved to retrieve it, but Shelby reached in to intercept.

“I’ll sign it,” she said cheerfully, “and will you sign mine?” she asked as she placed her shiny yearbook in his hand.

After both had placed their sentiments on the pages and returned them to their owners, Shelby got up and came to my desk.  She leaned in and whispered, “Are there any more yearbooks?”

I knew why she was asking. Shelby had always been the bright spot of the room and had always shown so much compassion and understanding for her seventh grade classmates. It broke my heart to tell her no.

At that moment I knew we could have done better. Next year would be different. Next year, there would be angels.

The following fall, I added a line to the yearbook order form: “Yearbook Angel Donation: For $5 your name will be listed in the yearbook as a Cherub, for $20 as a Silver Angel, and for $35 (the cost of a yearbook) as a Golden Angel.”

That first year, donations designated to buy extra books came in from a few teachers and the rest were from parents of yearbook staff kids. I let the counseling office know that I had eight books to give away. They came up with a list of eighth graders who they thought would appreciate a yearbook. I added them to the list of buyers and the counselors told those students to get in line and pick up their yearbooks like everyone else. No one but me knew their names. They got their autographs and proudly carried their yearbooks with them that last week of school.

The next year, more teachers got on board and departments got together to donate. We put a message on our school marquee near the street that said, “Yearbook Angels Needed,” and a lady who worked at the bank down the street called to get more information. She visited the office three times with envelopes full of bills and change and brought us enough for four yearbooks.  She never left her name but I imagine she asked everyone she knew for a few dollars to add to her donations. We gave away nearly 30 books that year.

The Yearbook Angels program continues at Indian Springs Middle School in Keller, Texas, and I brought the program with me to Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth. This year, we gave 12 seniors the gift of a yearbook. Next year’s staff has already set a goal of 20 and our fall fundraiser proceeds will go toward the cause.

I believe Yearbook Angels are everywhere. These are people who cherish their yearbooks and want to see one in every hand. Put out the call and see how many Yearbook Angels are in your community.

Kathy Beers

Beginning her 20th year in education, Kathy Beers has taught photojournalism and yearbook at Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth, Texas since the school opened in 2009. Prior to that, she was the yearbook adviser and art teacher in Indian Springs Middle School in Keller, Texas. She guides her students in class and at summer workshops to push the boundaries in theme and design. Her staff has won numerous awards, including a CSPA Gold Medal and Walsworth Gallery of Excellence.