Roxana Horak

Roxana Horak, the new counselor at Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet, started a Facebook group called "Adopt an HISD Teacher" in which community members are encouraged to support local educators.

When Roxana Horak was an elementary school counselor in Katy ISD last year, she joined a Facebook group where educators were “adopted” for the school year.

With the pandemic shadowing the school year, Horak said the family that adopted her was a consistent source of support and encouragement.

“Throughout the school year, they delivered gift baskets, purchased supplies from my wish list and wrote me motivational notes. I couldn’t ask for more,” Horak said.

This year, Horak is starting the school year as the new counselor at Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet and when she realized there were no similar groups to adopt a Houston ISD teacher, she created one so more educators could experience the love she was given the year prior.

“HISD is the largest school district in Texas,” Horak said. “That’s a lot of educators to love, so why not? I am, myself, a giver, and want to make others smile. Something like this brings smiles to many faces.”

The “Adopt an HISD Teacher” Facebook group was created by Horak as an avenue to connect educators with members of the community for support. As of Tuesday, the group was just shy of 500 members.

“Being an educator is hard work normally, but it’s definitely more challenging during COVID times,” Horak said. “And who doesn’t like to feel loved, supported and encouraged when the going gets tough? My motivation for creating the group was to provide a source of support for teachers.”

The group and the admin of the group are not associated with HISD. Some are employees and some are parents to children who go to a school in the area.

If an educator wants to be adopted, they will post their bio on the group’s main page. The bios include information about who they are, likes, interests, where they work, what they do or teach, and any other information they’d like to provide.

People looking for someone to adopt are free to go through the group and find an educator’s bio that resonates with them, and all they have to do is comment that they’d like to adopt that educator. The two then connect and discuss how the educator can be supported throughout the year.

“I’ve been asked a couple times about what it takes to be an adopter, and I have to stress that it’s not about the money,” Horak said. “It’s about the support and encouragement. An adopter does not have to spend an arm and a leg to make their adoptee feel special. That’s really important to know. I don’t want people to feel like they’re not ‘good enough’ or able to adopt a teacher. It’s not about how much you spend, but how you make someone feel.”

Starting this Wednesday, the group began “Wishlist Wednesdays,” during which educators can post their wish lists on a thread dedicated to them.

“This way, there’s even more support — other educators can pay it forward, members of the community who don’t quite want to dedicate themselves to adopting someone for an entire school year can still support educators as often as they wish, and it’s also a way for educators to get an idea of what materials other teachers are using in their classrooms, crowdsourcing at its finest,” Horak said.

For now, people can find the group exclusively on Facebook by searching for the group name.

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