Today Show helps local teacher with school and classroom supplies

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PORTLAND, Mich. (WILX) - Budget cuts and rising costs have left many schools in Michigan struggling to buy supplies leaving teachers with the bill.

NBC's Today Show recently stepped in to help out Portland Middle School English teacher Amanda Cornwell in purchasing school and classroom supplies.

"It was kind of unexpected to say the least," said Cornwell.

Cornwell has been footing the bill for everyday school supplies and classroom items for nine years, a bill which often pushes $1,000.

On the August 23 Today episode with Kathy Lee and Hoda Kotb, the show announced it would pay for this year's supplies. Along with giving Cornwell a new outfit, all 150 of her students received a gift card for clothes and school supply shopping.

"150 kids going through colored pencils, pencils, notebooks, Kleenexes, all of that that adds up," said Cornwell.

"I want to go and get some new clothes and maybe some school supplies so I can maybe have a little nicer clothes," said Dakota Hewitt, a 7th grader at Portland Middle School.

Cuts in education has left little money for teachers to create a classroom environment welcoming to kids.

"She's made it so comfortable in this room that you can share anything you're feeling bad about so she can help make it a better place to learn," said Madison Luxmore, a 7th grade student at Portland Middle School.

It's an atmosphere Cornwell says is worth the price.

"I teach people," said Cornwell. "I want them to know I cared about them and I want them to know I'm a real person."

"I've had many teachers I have not cared for but she's on the top of my list," said Luxmore.

Teachers spend an average of $500 per year on classroom supplies. Many resort to asking parents to help stock the classrooms with things like wet wipes and Kleenex.