Volunteer Spotlight – Elliot Oblander

Elliot, a new volunteer from Franklin High School, has jumped right into supporting the Free Store for Teachers. Elliot easily switches back and forth between detail-heavy data entry tasks to greeting and supporting shoppers at the Free Store for Teachers. He is an inspiring volunteer and we hope you take the time to learn more about him in the interview below. It is well worth the read!

Why did you decide to volunteer at Schoolhouse Supplies?
I am part of Franklin High School’s Communicare class, which has worked with Schoolhouse Supplies in the past to create Tools for Schools kits for Franklin students. Schoolhouse Supplies’ Program Manager, Courtney Berry, came to speak to our class and I was impressed by the program. I had heard of Schoolhouse Supplies before, but I had never really realized before how much teachers spend on supplies and how important the program’s work is. I became interested in volunteering and came in for an orientation and a couple of trainings. I now do data entry to track incoming/outgoing supplies and have also recently started a weekly shift working at the front desk on shopping days.

What is your favorite part of volunteering with Schoolhouse Supplies so far?
In regards to the front desk work, I enjoy working with people, and it is very gratifying to be able to help teachers. I particularly like showing around first-time shoppers because it is great to see one more teacher become a beneficiary of Schoolhouse Supplies.
In regards to the data entry work, I think that it is very meditative to enter numbers into the computer. It is a way of taking my mind off things while still doing something productive. I also enjoy seeing the impressive amount of supplies that people and organizations donate, as well as the incredible number of teachers benefiting greatly from the program. It might sound kind of funny, but I like it when a teacher’s shopping list totals a high amount, because to me it is a quantitative way of showing how much teachers and students are benefiting from Schoolhouse Supplies’ work.

Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
Many of my teachers have been influential and inspiring to me throughout high school, but the one teacher who has had the most impact on me is Marilyn Mi, my Mandarin Chinese teacher. I have taken four years of Chinese language classes from her, and this year I am in Advanced Placement Chinese, the equivalent of a third year college course. I never could have made it so far–in Chinese or in high school in general–without her constant support. She is very understanding and supportive of her students and constantly pushes every one of them to succeed.

What is your favorite school supply?
My favorite supply is undoubtedly a mechanical pencil. Between classwork and homework, I can easily end up writing fifteen to twenty pages in a single day, oftentimes under a strict time constraint (as in timed essays and tests), and a mechanical pencil allows me to keep writing uninterrupted without sharpening my pencil every five minutes. No messy shavings, either! I use the kind that has an extendable eraser, too, so I can have a pencil and eraser all in one unit.

After graduation and a summer of fun and volunteerism, Elliot will either be spending 10 months in China doing intensive language study with the U.S. Department of State, or he will attend either Brown or University of Pennsylvania to study international relations.  He hopes to pursue a career in diplomacy, possibly working for the U.S. Foreign Service.  We will miss Elliot’s involvement with Schoolhouse Supplies, but he is obviously off to do amazing work!

Best of luck and thank you Elliot!

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