Bridging the Opportunity Divide

When Her Impoverished Students Didn’t Have Proper Attire, This Ingenious Principal Found a Way to Keep Them Warm

February 3, 2015
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When Her Impoverished Students Didn’t Have Proper Attire, This Ingenious Principal Found a Way to Keep Them Warm
An Indiana principal raised enough money to provide all her students with new shoes and other cold weather gear. Tim Boyle/Newsmakers/Getty Images
Shoes held together with staples and tape were not acceptable to Nissa Ellett.

As this bitter winter grips Indiana, the 200 students at Heth-Washington Elementary School can step out in the cold with their best foot forward, thanks to their principal Nissa Ellett. The compassionate administrator made sure that these youngsters now have something they desperately needed before: brand new shoes.

In rural Harrison County, Ind., 75 percent of students live below the poverty line, Good News Network reports. Because of that, many families cannot afford a decent pair of shoes.

“We’ve had several students who have had holes in their shoes, the soles were peeling off, we’ve been using duct tape and staples and tying together shoe strings,” Ellett tells WDRB.

MORE: Paying it Forward: Why This University President Gave Up a Quarter of His Salary

That’s when she decided to make sure every single one of her students had a new kicks. She organized a community fundraiser hoping to raise $6,300, and the response she received was staggering. “In 24 days, we raised $17,000,” Ellett says.

Not only did the donated funds pay for shoes for each student, but it was enough to buy them snow boots, hats, outerwear, socks and candy, too.

As you can see in the touching video below, the students got to open their presents as a Christmas surprise.

“My perspective on it is if we can meet their basic needs, then they can focus on learning and that what’s critical,” Ellett says.

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