Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shopping on the Donors' Dime

This year The District has something new in place called the Teacher Free Store. Apparently the local Education Foundation got a bunch of donors (mainly businesses in the area) to donate school supplies and things teachers use in their classrooms so they could set up a "store" that teachers can visit four times a year. Considering that teachers spend an average of $500-$1000 a year out of their own pocket for things for their classroom and their students, I thought this was a great idea.

Personally, I don't need that much for my classroom. I've taught at a summer camp for the past few years and they were always more than happy to have me take leftover and slightly used items off their hands. Storage over the school year was an issue and the less they had to store the better. So, for most teachers, I do pretty well.

However, the kids this year are having an awful time getting basic supplies, especially binders, pencil pouches, and divider tabs. Our free and reduced lunch numbers are up and fewer and fewer people are paying school fees. So, I figured I'd go down to the free store and see if I could find a few things for my kids.

(On an aside here...if there's one thing that drives me nuts, it's people who can't take care of their kids' basic needs like food, clothes, and school supplies, yet have enough money for beer, cigarettes and lots and lots of body art. Priorities people.)

In any case, I made my appointment to go down to the store, drove down there, and spent about ten minutes picking up things for my kids. I got some binders, some pencil pouches (no dividers, alas), two sets of multiplication cards to use with our team remediation class, and a stapler. The stapler was the only thing I got for my room, as I now have 8 lab groups, not 7, so I was short one stapler.

All I had to do was write a thank you note to the donors and that was it. Painless.

So yesterday one of my kids, Tank Boy (this kid screams football player when you look at him, even though he's only 12), is digging through a bunch of folders to find his make-up work from when he missed class. I like this kid a lot. You can tell he doesn't have much support at home financially, but he's a hard worker, participates in class and has a lot of potential. I notice the folder and ask him if he needs a binder.

"Oh yes, ma'am, I do," he says.

"Wait a second," I say, and go to the cabinet where I put the goodies from the Teacher Store. "Do you need a pencil pouch too?"

"Oh yes, and tabs if you have them," he says. His eyes are getting wider and wider as I start pulling the binder and pencil pouch out of the cabinet.

"Well, I don't have tabs, but I have these," I say as I hand him plain boring binder and a pencil pouch. You would have thought, from the look on his face, that I'd given him something much more valuable.

"For me?" He says, as if he couldn't believe I was actually giving him something to keep.

"Yes, but I expect you to take care of them, stay organized, and keep your grades up," I say. (Never hurt to lay out the ground rules again!)

"Oh, I will!" Tank Boy said with a huge smile. "Thank you so much!"

Thank you, dear donors, for helping me make this kid's day.

3 comments:

Sunny said...

(On an aside here...if there's one thing that drives me nuts, it's people who can't take care of their kids' basic needs like food, clothes, and school supplies, yet have enough money for beer, cigarettes and lots and lots of body art. Priorities people.)

Totally agree!! My own brother asked me if I could help him buy supplies for my niece because he's "broke" as he says. Yet he has so many tattoos, I've lost count of them. I pointed out that I can't help HIM because I bought for my own 3 children PLUS the 30 I anticipate having in my class this year. Sheesh!

How awesome that you were able to make that kid's day!

Elaine said...

oh, I'm jealous... wish we had something like that here.

We had so many free/reduced lunch kids that the district just decided it was faster/easier/cheaper to give ALL kids at my school free breakfast every day.

On the plus side, instead of having my 'secret' stash of PB and bread for hungry kids, I now get to spend the money on paper and folders for them. (Pencils, strangely enough, aren't an issue. The kids are AMAZING at remembering to give them back! They'll even swing by at the end of the day when they borrow one for the day.)

http://dkzody.wordpress.com said...

Our department had a cabinet full of binders from all those meetings and such over the years that make you put things in binders. Any time I asked the kids who needed a binder, hands shot up all over the place. They always loved the free binders and anything else I had to give away. I wish we could all do more of this in the schools where poverty is so high.