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How a Lansing teacher brought $20K to her school

How a Lansing teacher brought $20K to her school


LANSING — After working for seven years in the Indian Springs School District, Liz Capizzano decided it was time to work in her community. 

For six years, the now-second-grade teacher has lived in Lansing. Now, she works in her community. 

Even though she just started at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School this year, she applied for a grant through Enchanted Backpack. 

The program works with schools in the Chicagoland area to help provide classrooms with 25 core supplies, including pencils, crayons, papers, notebooks, binders, books, athletic equipment and clothing. 

At the beginning of the school year, Capizzano submitted the grant, with the help of coworkers, and hoped for the best — because the school had just moved to its new, renovated building in fall 2018, Capizzano wasn't sure if it would qualify. 

A few months later, however, she got the call: Enchanted Backpack would provide Coolidge Elementary with $20,000 for school supplies. 

The first thing she did was call her principal, Pam Hodgson, to tell her the good news. 

"It is because of (Capizzano's) efforts bringing Enchanted Backpack to us that we're able to have this assembly and able to have all these things for you," Hodgson told students on Jan. 17, after receiving supplies from the organization. 

This was the second time Capizzano has worked with Enchanted Backpack. While she was a fifth-grade teacher at Wilkins Elementary in Justice, Illinois, the school received a grant. 

One small voice

Coolidge was the second school to receive the grant in 2020, and members from Enchanted Backpack brought two van loads full of supplies to the Lansing elementary school on Jan. 17, adding to an existing pile of supplies the organization already brought to the school. 

Classroom rugs, athletic equipment and various boxes hiding troves of classroom treasures took up most of the stage in the gym.

Next week, after all of the supplies are unboxed, the school will have a "garage sale" for its teachers, allowing them to "shop" for the items they need. 

"I just think it's a wonderful opportunity, and I'm glad to have been selected to work with (Enchanted Backpack) again," she said.

Though she didn't cry when she found out, as she saw the supplies coming in and heard students sing, "One Small Voice" — honoring Enchanted Backpack as the one small voice helping students and teachers in the classroom — she teared up.  

During the assembly, Hodgson, along with Superintendent of Schools Nathan Schilling, thanked Capizzano for her hard work. In response, she shook her head and waved to the crowd of students, faculty and parents, later saying she couldn't take all the credit. 

Capizzano said she, like many other of her coworkers, often spends more than $500 annually from her own pocket to help provide her students the tools they need to succeed. 

This year, she finds herself buying pens and markers — new supplies to her second-graders who couldn't use the writing utensils while in kindergarten and first grade. 

Another big thing this year is making sure her students have snacks during the day, since they have the latest lunch period. 

"Some students come to school and they don't have any supplies and it's up to the teacher to then give them the supplies that they need to be successful in the classroom. I hope that this lasts for a while so we can keep supporting the students," Capizzano said.

Gallery: Let's celebrate Region teachers


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South Lake County Reporter

Mary Freda is the South Lake County reporter at The Times. She is a proud Ball State graduate, where she studied news journalism and Spanish. You can reach Mary at or 219-853-2563.

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