Embry-Riddle student lauded for inspiring large donation of recycled office, student supplies to PUSD Teacher’s Closet

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University junior Makayla Gill earned unexpected praise from Prescott Unified School District leaders after an end-of-year cleaning spree helped restock its Teacher’s Closet.
By Nanci Hutson
Originally Published: September 25, 2023
The Daily Courier

Embry-Riddle student lauded for inspiring large donation of recycled office, student supplies to PUSD Teacher’s Closet

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University junior Makayla Gill earned unexpected praise from Prescott Unified School District leaders after an end-of-year cleaning spree helped restock its Teacher’s Closet.

A cyber intelligence and security major who works in the university finance office, she said she ended up with some down time at her job and opted to clean out one of the supply closets. She said she collected several bags of never-used items she felt were worthy of recycling. She just wasn’t quite sure the right avenue.

She asked her supervisor, Shannon Jones, who suggested she reach out to the PUSD Education Foundation Executive Director Paul Kirchgraber. He was able to funnel that donation to the now four-year Teacher’s Closet located in the rear of the Prescott High School. The program allows teachers on a monthly basis to collect no-cost donated classroom and school supplies to benefit their students.

Unaware of the program, Gill arranged to donate the bags from the office. But she then opted to go a step further.

Inspired by the importance of this local project, Gill realized that at the end of each semester students pack up and often dispose of perfectly good materials that they are not going to take with them when they depart the campus. So she posted fliers around the campus and in the dormitories with large boxes where students could deposit those unused items. Uncertain how the endeavor would go, Gill said she was pleasantly surprised that within a week as the school year ended they had filled five “giant” boxes with everything from notebooks, copy paper pencils, pens, sticky notes to desk organizers, plastic storage containers, computer supplies, even a printer.

“It was a huge hit,” Gill said of what was a relatively simple collection drive that she expects will now become an established routine for future Teacher’s Closet donations. “It was amazing.”

For Kirchgraber, Gill’s quick-thinking and willingness to coordinate such an effort was noteworthy.

In a conversation with the university Chancellor Anette Karlsson, Kirchgraber shared how much the district appreciated Gill’s willingness to go above and beyond to benefit the district.

Kirchgraber said he found Gill’s generosity all the more impressive because she is not a PUSD alumnus; this endeavor was not part of any official type of community service project or requirement of her work study program. It was simply something she felt was the right thing to do, he said.

Through her own initiative, and coordinating the drive during the hectic final weeks of the school year, Kirchgraber congratulated Gill for her willingness to coordinate and deliver much-needed supplies able to help fill the Teacher’s Closet shelves with materials that might otherwise have ended up in a garbage bin.

Teacher’s Closet founder, volunteer and PUSD Governing Board member Jane Robertson also is impressed that a college student opted to investing her “time, energy and voice” to helping others. Indeed, Robertson said the Teacher’s Closet operates solely by such word-of-mouth generosity.

What to this “outstanding young lady” might seem a simple gesture is “making a huge difference.”

“I’m definitely so beyond grateful to be able to contribute to the community of Prescott,” said Gill, who notes she attended a school district in California where teachers often had to pay out of their pocket for such supplies as there was no budget for such items.

Admitting she didn’t envision the good when she was first thinking of how to recycle unused office products, Gill said she is humbled and delighted that she and her fellow faculty and students found a meaningful way to make a difference in the community where they now live and work. She said she hopes it inspires a “domino effect” of paying it forward on her campus and in the greater community.

“My heart is completely full,” Gill said.

By Nanci Hutson – The Daily Courier
Originally Published: September 25, 2023