In an exclusive interview, the mom of three and Honest Company founder explained her newfound appreciation for educators and partnership with Amazon to get them the supplies they need this school year.

By Maressa Brown
August 31, 2020
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Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty Images

Around the country, the 2020-2021 school year is already proving to be like nothing parents and students have ever experienced. But as kids navigate this new reality that involves hopping online versus into an assigned desk and buying masks as a part of their back-to-school wardrobe, certain constants remain. They'll still have homework, grades, and tests. And teachers are still having to pay for many of their own supplies.

Well before the country faced a pandemic and economic downturn, a teacher named Courtney Jones started #CleartheList Foundation, which allows school faculty and staff to create wish lists of supplies that supporters can then purchase. #CleartheList is in the spotlight now, as parents band together to give back to dedicated educators, and among those parents is Jessica Alba. The Honest Company founder recently partnered with #ClearTheList and Amazon for their #ReadyforSchool initiative to donate $10,000 of school supplies to tons of teachers ahead of the fall.

Alba shared details of the partnership on Instagram earlier this month, writing, "After spending so much time with the kiddos doing virtual schooling… My appreciation for teachers is on a whole new level!!! I've always had mad respect for all the work teachers do, and that’s why I’m so excited to announce I'm working with @Amazon for A #ClearTheList project!"

Alba explains to Parents.com that only recently did she come to realize just how many resources educators are lacking. "It wasn't that clear to me how they have to provide so much for their own classrooms and spend their own money just to have the essentials that they need," she shares, noting that "it shouldn't be this way" for teachers "who are arguably some of the most important people in our children's lives outside of those who raise them."

And while educators might have had to spring for supplies like construction paper or markers in the past, many who are returning to in-person instruction are now being tasked with purchasing their own personal protective equipment (PPE) and even masks and cleaning supplies for kids, points out Alba. "Now, masks, hand sanitizers, gloves, and sanitation wipes are right at the top of their lists—especially if they're back at school, even, in some cases, doing virtual learning, as a lot of them still have to go into their school buildings," she notes.

Like many parents, this unnerving time has only served to bolster Alba's existing respect for her children's teachers. "My eldest just started middle school," she shares. "My experience with education was through the lens of the student always, but having to step into the shoes of a teacher—that's a whole different thing. Teachers are so creative in the way they bring learning to life for children."

Acknowledging that kids' attention spans can be short, and learning from home can only serve to compound that issue, Alba concludes, "They're saints. Teachers are incredible to keep kids focused and interested."

Alba says she and her husband Cash Warren have addressed virtual learning stress by ensuring her children, who have gone back to school online, have what they call "true school days." "My kids aren't allowed to be in their pajamas on their bed when they’re online virtually learning," she notes. "We say, 'You're going to be showered, you're going to have your breakfast eaten, and you're going to be paying attention, active, and participating.' It's still school."

These types of rules and boundaries only serve to benefit kids and their teachers, notes Alba. And so does making time for non-tech fun. "It's important to know when to turn off the screen," she says. "Honor likes to draw, and she'll say, 'I'm just drawing [on the computer], Mama, not getting screen time.' But I'll say, 'I want you to use acrylics. Don't put your face on a screen when it's been on a screen all day.'"

The entrepreneur also loves the fact that being home during the pandemic has made it more possible to do more hands-on activities with her kids. "I'm doing macrame with Haven, water coloring with Honor. We're learning TikTok dances together, and they're making fun of me. We'll do workouts together, or I'll just get them to cook with me," she says.

Alba believes all of this hard work—and play—is informing the light at the end of the tunnel. She hopes that as a result of this challenging time, parents will have even more respect and empathy for teachers. The mom of three concludes, "At the end of the tunnel of the pandemic, I hope people give teachers the respect and extra layer of support that maybe they didn't think about before they were in their shoes."

Teachers can visit amazon.com/wishlist to build their classroom wish lists, which parents can search through to fulfill.

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