Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper partnered with the John M. Belk endowment and Carolina Panthers Charities to provide Classroom Central with $120,000 in mid-year funding.
Classroom Central will allot those funds to Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary school teachers at 19 Title I schools to replenish mid-year school supplies.
Tepper presented the donation to a group of CMS teachers on Tuesday at Bank of America Stadium, after they ran through the home tunnel onto the field as if they were being introduced for a game.
Tepper’s mother, aunt and one of his daughters were teachers, and Tepper remembers his mother at times having to buy school supplies for students out of her own pocket. He wants to make education and the support of teachers a priority in his charitable endeavors in both Carolinas, with Tuesday’s event the followup to a back-to-school effort held last fall that distributed 12,000 backpacks.
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“I really do appreciate the commitment you guys make as teachers,” Tepper, addressing the group of about 50 CMS teachers on the field, said. “I understand, from my childhood, what it means to have supplies for the students and to do things for the students when they (can’t) for themselves sometimes. I know sometimes you guys, like my mother did in those days, spent her own money for supplies. I appreciate that.”
The $120,000 amount then flashed across the big screens at the stadium, greeted by cheers from the group of teachers.
“We’re excited that we can (present) this funding for you guys’ students, for a great second half of the year at school,” Tepper said. “This is for 800 classrooms. ... Again, I just really wanted to thank you for what you do. I understand what you do. Thank you.”
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who was raised by two public school teachers in New Jersey, kicked off the event on Tuesday afternoon with a meet-and-greet in the Panthers’ locker room.
“I know firsthand a lot of the sacrifices, a lot of the work that goes in,” Olsen said. “Your days do not start when the bell rings, and they do not end when the bell rings.
“I witnessed that firsthand. I think that’s something that too often in our country doesn’t get enough praise, it doesn’t get enough recognition, it doesn’t get enough support. I think that’s why this is so special. The community is going to help our community.
“These kids are going to grow up in Mecklenburg Country, these are the kids that are going to grow up and be our next leaders. ... And you guys are at the start of that long journey for them. Outside of their parents, no one makes a greater impact on a child than their teacher.”