Actress Kristen Bell gives Arsenal teachers a big classroom boost
As an elementary school math question, it might go something like this:
What do two dedicated Pittsburgh Public Schools kindergarten teachers plus one well-intentioned Hollywood celebrity plus her 10.2 million Instagram followers equal?
This week’s answer would be scores of boxes of word puzzles and games, art materials, markers, erasers, apparel, books and other supplies donated by fans of actress Kristen Bell to enrich the classrooms of Arsenal PreK-5 teachers Jessica Chernay and Holly Williams.
“This is Christmas time for teachers,” a smiling Ms. Williams said Tuesday morning, as she and Ms. Chernay surveyed a pile of packages almost as tall as them that had been mounting in a storage room of the Lawrenceville school’s gymnasium.
Products ordered from Amazon Prime began arriving Monday, courtesy of Ms. Bell’s followers around the country, three days after she spotlighted the two colleagues — who have considered themselves teaching partners across the hall from one another for the past six years — in her weekly Featured Teacher Friday Instagram post.
The star of NBC’s “The Good Place,” likely more familiar to schoolchildren as the voice of Princess Anna in “Frozen,” recognizes a worthy teacher each week who has provided an Amazon registry wish list of classroom items that would be helpful to supplement what their school districts can provide. Ms. Bell displays the teacher’s email describing the need, and the actress encourages her followers to select and pay for shipment of items from the registry.
Ms. Chernay, a devotee years ago of Ms. Bell’s “Veronica Mars” TV show, was familiar with the actress’ efforts as one of her Instagram followers, and even made small contributions on behalf of some other teachers who were featured. She pitched the idea to Ms. Williams last November to submit their own joint application.
They brainstormed to come up with a wish list of dozens of items, and Ms. Chernay stated their case in an email. She described a diverse city public school where many foreign-born students, some of them from refugee families, learn English as a second language.