Walmart rewards borough teachers

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NAUGATUCK — It won’t solve the borough’s education budget crisis, but a new Walmart program will help 10 teachers at Central Avenue School provide classroom supplies to their students.

Last week, the local Walmart furnished Central Avenue with 10, $100 teacher reward cards, which Principal Evelyn Gobstein awarded at a staff meeting.

“We dropped everybody’s name in a hat and pulled out 10 winners,” Gobstein explained.

In the past, she said, Walmart gave a $1,000 card to Naugatuck’s teacher of the year, but this year decided to divide that amount among more teachers. Nationally, Walmart’s Teacher Rewards Program will provide $4 million to 40,000 educators.

Gobstein said the company selected her school because it is “needy.” Forty-one percent of Central Avenue School students live in poverty, the second highest rate among the borough’s 11 public schools, according to state Department of Education data.

Gobstein said at least one teacher from each of the school’s five grade levels (third to eighth) received a card. She said she hasn’t polled the winners to find out what they plan to buy but knows some are asking students what they would like to purchase. One art teacher is putting her money toward a pumpkin project that might otherwise be difficult to fund.

Though the dollar amount of the gift is modest, Gobstein said its timing made it special.

“We were excited because it came right at a time when we’d just heard all that bad news [about possible layoffs],” she said.