Curry’s support during Teacher Appreciation Week honours his mother Sonya’s teaching legacy and the Curry family’s connections to Oakland, Calif., and Charlotte, N.C.
In a year where every part of life was touched by the pandemic, educators across America faced challenges like none had before.
From building virtual learning environments and lessons on the fly to keeping children engaged through a video camera, teachers had to rely on their creativity, resilience, and dedication.
Ann Park, a California native and 26-year educator in Oakland, California, currently teaches fourth and fifth grades at Bridges Academy at Melrose.
Nearly all her students come from low‑income households, and many are the first in their family to have consistent access to formal schooling – challenges that were not made any easier during the pandemic.
To honor Park and teachers like her this Teacher Appreciation Week, Curry Brand, powered by Under Armour, worked with Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. and DonorsChoose, the leading nonprofit site for giving to public schools.
On May 6, Curry Brand and Eat. Learn. Play. funded DonorsChoose projects focused on sports and literacy at schools in underrepresented communities in Oakland — Curry’s family’s adopted home — and in Curry’s hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. The donation covered the cost of over 120 DonorsChoose projects.
“The biggest challenge is the loss of connection of seeing everybody in person,” Park said. “[But] the thing that’s really impressive to me is that 100 percent of the students in my class show up every single day [online]…I’m just so impressed with them. They’re my inspiration.”
Teaching has long been a Curry family touchstone. Stephen Curry’s mother Sonya Curry founded a pre-school outside of Charlotte that Curry attended along with brother Seth and sister Sydel.
For nearly 30 years, Sonya helped guide the development of hundreds of young students before retiring in 2018.
“My nature is to teach,” Sonya Curry said, “so I just followed my purpose.”
Eat. Learn. Play. includes a focus on reading literacy. Their work is rooted in ensuring all kids can access opportunities for a healthy childhood with education, nutrition, and physical activity at all levels.
“My mother, Sonya, dedicated the vast majority of her life to the service of the next generation,” Stephen Curry said.
“This is a special way to honour her legacy as an educator while also supporting the many special individuals who now sit in the seat she once filled.”
To honor Park — a longtime Warriors fan — Stephen and Sonya surprised her with a video call where they talked teaching and basketball.
During the conversation, the Currys told Park that Curry Brand and Eat. Learn. Play. had fully funded her grade level team’s end-of-year DonorsChoose project.
In addition, Stephen and Sonya offered Park a $3,000 DonorsChoose gift card that will help her continue to provide for her students during the pandemic and beyond.
Park has said that she sees teaching as “an act of social justice,” and her approach to education earned her recognition as a California Teacher of the Year in 2016.
“Empowering [students] to be who they are and to speak up about social justice issues — those kinds of things bring me joy,” Park said. “Just seeing the students see themselves as change makers and able to make a difference in the world.
“I do hear ‘But we’re only 10, what can we do,’ but there’s a lot they can do. My hope is that they understand that they really can make a huge difference.”
In honour of the educators who inspire and motivate students inside and outside of the classroom, Curry Brand will also launch Class-y Flow, the 2021 National Teacher Appreciation Week colorway of the Curry Flow 8. The blush colourway was designed with Sonya’s passion for teaching in mind, celebrating the educators who play an invaluable role in nurturing the next generation. The shoe will be released globally on May 7, 2021, via currybrand.com and at UA Brand Houses and select retail partners for $160 USD.