She started young.
Like, really young.
Like, fourth grade young.
And now, she’s an officially recognized “hero of education.”
To be specific, Ellie Klein, starting in fourth grade, took to raising money to hand over to her teacher to buy classroom supplies.
Every year, her efforts got more ambitious. She had a booth at the Payson Farmers Market. She staged little events. She even corrupted classmates to become do-gooders.
Now at the wise old age of 11, she appeared before the Payson school board to account for her strange and seemingly contagious community spirit.
Ellie blamed her beloved older sister — as well as her parents, who run a Payson marketing and social media business, when Superintendent Linda Gibson interviewed her before the board and, like, everybody.
“What got you started?” asked Gibson.
“I just started doing it at the farmers market,” said Ellie, seeming a little thrown by the attention. “I just used that for any supplies my teacher needed. I just figured if I did that then I would feel great from doing that.”
“I see a little tear in your eye,” said Gibson. “You really know your passion — and that was giving back. What was the first thing you did to give back?”
“My teacher in fourth grade needed pencils and notebooks,” said Ellie.
And it kind of got out of hand from there.
“This year the whole history class bought notebooks and things the teacher didn’t have,” said Ellie. “They’ve asked for all kinds of supplies that they needed so that we could learn better — and we’ve gotten them that so far.”
“If you could have gotten a class pet,” asked Gibson, seriously, “what would you have wanted?”
“Most of them voted for a bunny — but I don’t think the teacher really wanted that,” said Ellie somberly, drawing a laugh from the assembled administrators, board members, teachers, and her parents beaming in the second row.
“You have employees,” said Gibson. “How many?”
“Oh, two or three,” said Ellie.
“Being a rural school district, it’s hard to get employees — what are some tips you can give us to entice employees?” Gibson deadpanned.
“A lot of my friends are kind of back and forth. They honestly wanted to help. They didn’t want to get paid. But I would pay them and they were really happy.”
“Your marketing dad is over there,” said Gibson, looking at Joey Klein — who has been pushing the “Adventure Payson” campaign for the town. “Do you have a slogan — like ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Make It Happen?’”
Ellie shrugged. “Not really.”
“Is there anything else you want to tell the community?” asked Gibson.
“Not really,” said Ellie — clearly done with being the whole focus.
After all, she’s 11 already — and we’re burning daylight with so many teachers still in need of so many pens and notebooks.
Time to get back to work.