Helpful Teacher Appreciation


In a typical school year, teachers are expected to spend an average of $820 out-of-pocket on essential classroom supplies. Seeing how much teachers invest in creating an enriching learning environment, we knew we had to help! Teacher Appreciation Day fell on May 2nd this year, and Teacher Appreciation Week was May 8th – 10th.


We started secretly planning over a month ago by sending out nomination forms to schools across SoCal. We received around 500 submissions from friends, colleagues, and principals detailing teachers’ compelling stories and exemplary work. We read through each one and narrowed it down to our final five! Our Guys in Blue set out to honor the hard-working teachers by surprising them with $5,000 worth of much-needed school supplies!


To kick off the celebration on May 2nd, the official Teacher Appreciation Day, we highlighted Denise Hippen, a 6th Grade Teacher at Howard Cattle Elementary School in Chino. The Guys in Blue surprised Mrs. Hippen with supplies for her classroom, such as a printer, laminators, a digital camera, supplies for her end-of-the-year movie party, and more. Our Helpful Honda team “crashed” the school’s monthly morning rally. The school called up groups of teachers from each grade to recognize them. Mrs. Hippen was a part of the last group and was asked to stay for a final surprise. She was amazed. She got teary-eyed and expressed her immense gratitude for the items. Her colleague explained, “She continuously gives her all to the students. No matter what she has going on in her personal life, she is always there for them. It’s great to see her get the recognition she deserves.”


On Tuesday, May 9th, we started Teacher Appreciation Week by surprising Roxanne O’Rourke, a Kindergarten teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School in Glendale. Our Guys in Blue “crashed” Mrs. O’Rourke’s classroom with a Shapes and Colors Activity Carpet, MacBook Pro Laptop, Color Laser Printer, Full Circuit Maker Bundle, and more! Mrs. O’Rourke was in shock when our Helpful team marched into her classroom with supplies for her students and to help her continue to create her handmade memory books. The Helpful Honda Guys invited her whole family to participate in the surprise. Her sister could not have been prouder, “No one deserves this more than her, and we are all so excited to be here to celebrate her hard work.” Mrs. O’Rourke was nominated by her principal, who had nothing but amazing things to say: “She’s like pixie dust; she really does make magic happen.”


The Guys in Blue headed down to Torrance on Wednesday, May 10th, to surprise Kathi Matsubara, a 5th Grade teacher at Riviera Elementary School. The school called a “special assembly” for Teacher Appreciation Week, where the chorus performed a few songs. After the performance, the Helpful Honda Guys drove the Helpful van onto the blacktop and interrupted the assembly. They called up Mrs. Matsubara and surprised her with a microphone and speaker for the Choir, Cricket Maker 3, a complete set of classroom chairs, a Chromebook Cart, and more. The student body cheered and chanted for her as the Guys in Blue rolled out the supplies! Mrs. Matsubara held back tears as she looked through her new gifts. Her colleague and friend gushed about her, “I was hoping that the surprise was for her when you guys pulled up. She usually doesn’t like attention, but I know it means the world to her to be recognized, so thank you.”


We honored Christine Williams, a 10th – 12th AP Psychology teacher at La Serna High School in Whittier. On Thursday, May 11th, the Guys in Blue set up on the outdoor stage, where we showcased all the valuable supplies such as psychology books, fidget activities, furniture for a “calming corner,” and classroom activities and experiments. Mrs. Williams and her class walked into the quad, thinking they were taking a class picture with her wellness team. Initially confused, she could not believe the surprise was all for her! Her colleague was joyful, “Ms. Williams is amazing. She goes out of her way to care for the campus as a whole, from the administrators to the students. She has helped cultivate a community of wellness here on our campus.”


To end the week with a bang, on Friday, May 12th, the Guys in Blue surprised John Tran, a 7th Grade History teacher at Dale Junior High in Anaheim. The Helpful Honda team “crashed” his classroom, surprising him with flexible seating, drawing tablets, an iPad, a whiteboard class set, and even more supplies to help build his classroom! Mr. Tran was speechless as he looked around at all his excited students. His long time friend exclaimed, “I admire how he goes out of his way to make things personal for his students and colleagues. He takes his time to create individual Pokemon characters and an entire Pokemon class system to help get his students involved in the material.”


The Guys in Blue could not have surprised these five teachers without the help of their nominators, family, and principals! Thank you to all the standout teachers across SoCal who go above and beyond to make a difference daily.


Stay tuned for more exciting Random Acts of Helpfulness from the Guys in Blue. This summer might bring you free gas and a Father’s Day celebration!


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