According to a recent survey conducted by Horace Mann Educators Corporation, teachers are experiencing burnout at exorbitant rates. The results of the survey, as quoted in Forbes, showed that teachers are “working more, enjoying it less, facing financial challenges, and, in some cases, thinking about retiring rather than continuing under these conditions.” Educators across the country have been forced to rethink curriculums, adjust to hybrid learning challenges, and find new ways to keep students engaged in a tumultuous, unpredictable year. 

Due to the nature of the remote learning landscape, many teachers have found themselves talking for hours to a sea of muted microphones and black screens. This causes a sense of isolation in one of the most traditionally social professions, contributing further to feelings of burnout. Sonya K. Battle, founder of The Teacher’s Backpack, recognized the struggles our teachers are experiencing and felt compelled to do something to support, empower and uplift educators during these unprecedented times. In November, Phase One of The Teacher’s Backpack, which consists of pre-filled self-care backpacks, launched for pre-order. 

These backpacks are chock full of self-care items for teachers and have a total retail value of around $250, but every backpack ships free of cost to both the recipient and the sender. With items like fuzzy socks, a fitness tracker, vitamins, journals and more, these backpacks are the perfect way to show appreciation for teachers during a time when they need it most. “When the idea to start this organization came to me, I knew I had to run with it,” said Battle. “My true passion is to empower and uplift teachers in every facet of their professional and personal lives. I feel so grateful that through this organization, people who support teachers and I are able to not only help teachers succeed, but thrive.”

Especially in the wake of those startling survey results, it’s more crucial a time than ever to help our nation’s educators feel like they are thriving, not just surviving. It’s an especially challenging time for young children, who don’t always quite understand why they can’t be in school. Elementary and middle-school teachers have to be even more animated and engaging over the screen in order to ensure their students get the fundamentals of the curriculum and have quality social time that’s important for development. Parents of these young children should be especially grateful for their kids’ teachers for keeping them on track, and these backpacks are a great way to express gratitude.

In addition to their backpack initiative, The Teacher’s Backpack draws weekly winners for “Teacher of the Week.” Teachers are nominated by their peers, students, or friends for this award and the randomly-selected winner receives a gift card in recognition of their hard work. Katie Vickery Carly, a former Teacher of the Week winner, said she felt supported by TBO during a time “when [she] felt out of control and alone.” Vickery Carly said she couldn’t be “more grateful” for the support and recognition she received from the organization. Her testimony is proof that the small gestures of gratitude pack a big punch in today’s world. 

If you would like to send a backpack to a teacher, or donate to The Teacher’s Backpack to help support their cause, please visit