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Hall teachers, schools win Walmart supplies
Lula elementary kindergarten teacher Tina Blalock helps Jacob Estes with a reading exercise. Blalock is one of the Hall County teachers who applied for Walmart’s “Write to Change the Classroom” challenge and said she plans to use the $4,000 for her classroom to purchase a camcorder to video kids reading. - photo by Tom Reed

Four Hall County schools were among 20 nationwide to win $8,000 in school supplies from Walmart.

In a year of state budget cuts coupled with teacher pay cuts, many Hall County teachers jumped on Walmart’s "Write to Change the Classroom" contest that asked teachers to pitch their plans for what they would do with an unprecedented school supply budget. "With only two ink cartridges for our entire school, I ask that my classroom have enough for printing so that my students can learn in color," wrote Martin Elementary second-grade teacher Lynn Farr.

Farr submitted her plan in the form of a poem. She said she was thrilled to learn she’d have $4,000 from Walmart to spend on her own classroom and another $4,000 in supply funds for the whole school.

Lula Elementary kindergarten teacher Tina Blalock told Walmart representatives she would create her dream classroom, complete with a 21st century reading center.

Blalock said she began scoping out camcorders and DVD players to make reading more exciting for students even before she received her classroom’s $4,000 gift card this week.

She said she plans to use the camcorder to record young authors reading their first stories. The handheld DVD players will be used to help bring the stories to life.

"As soon as I found out I won, I was at Walmart window shopping," she said. "The kids ask me every morning if I’ve gone shopping for them yet."

Blalock said she has a year to spend the money, and is glad that for this year at least, she won’t have to delve into her own funds to provide students with pencils, paper and crayons. "I usually purchase a lot of things from my own pocket because I love teaching and I love my kids," she said. "I described in my story that it didn’t bother me to do that because I would want my kids’ teachers to do that for them — to make sure they have what they need."

Other Hall County winners include Bridget Rodriguez of Flowery Branch High and Kathy Mellette of North Hall Middle.

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