Oak Forest resident Emily Ferrell, a mother of four, knows what it was like to be home with kids during the spring. The COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to close in mid-March, forcing parents to become at-home teachers for the rest of the school year.
So she and husband Chase recently launched a unique way to honor these “Teachers of the Year” with a yard sign campaign.
“We lovingly refer to our branch of (Oak Forest Elementary) distance learning as Feral Academy,” Emily Ferrell said. “We only have four students (aged) 0 to 9 years old.”
Ferrell also is a social worker in child welfare at DePelchin Children’s Center, where she works with foster and adoptive families and children. And with husband Chase, she also owns a real estate company, Green Bear Properties.
“He’s a broker and I try to help him and his partner with marketing sometimes,” she said. “We had an idea during our many, many hours together that combined a fundraising idea for my clients and a way to get his name out there to prospective buyers and sellers.”
With sponsor Take Us Higher Learning, they created and sold “Teacher of the Year” yard signs with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to DePelchin families for school supplies, distance learning needs and educational toys.
“We still have about 30 left to sell and the window of opportunity is closing this week as school officially ends,” Ferrell said. “I gave one of these major awards to myself, of course, along with an acceptance speech. We have had the best time surprising people, delivering signs with the kids, and bringing smiles to exhausted parents in the Houston area.”
One of the recipients was Oak Forest resident Jenni Ferrell, who is not related to Emily. A friend had bought a sign for her.
“I was out in my front yard garden and someone drove by and said, ‘Congratulations!’” Jenni said. “I assumed they were talking about the garden (and) then I saw the sign. I read it and only saw ‘Teacher of the Year.’ My first thought was, ‘Oh no! They messed up and put someone’s award in the wrong yard!’
“I read the sign more closely and saw that it said, ‘The kids did it all!’ And I just started smiling and laughing. It was perfect. The truth is that our kids did do it all. The sign was such a cool surprise. I called the kids out to see it and they had big smiles and laughs as well. It added some joy to a super weird end of semester.”
To order “Teacher of the Year” signs, email email@example.com or call 281-851-0514. Signs are $25 each with a discount for five or more ordered. The sign can be personalized with a note on the back.