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.