How do you keep educators from having to buy supplies with their own fund? Open a free store.


You’ve likely heard of knapsack drives, where volunteers pack bags of school supplyings for kids in need.

Photo by Morgan/ Flickr.

Maybe you’ve even helped out with one, either by donating supplyings or by helping to pass out the finished packages. If so, bravo! These drives are great, and they genuinely do help so many kids.

But it might surprise you to know that a lot of these materials never make it to the classroom .

They can either get lost in the shuffle( buried in drawers somewhere before the school year starts) or disposed because they aren’t genuinely required( watercolor paints for a third-grader who’s not taking art, for example ). No one is maliciously hoarding school supplyings, but you know, things happen , and sometimes they don’t get where they need to go.

Not to mention, these backpack drives usually happen at the beginning of the year. When supplyings start to get low around winter break, there’s no surplus to fall back on.

In any case, I think we all know who usually aims up paying the price: the educators .

Project Teacher, in Wichita, Kansas, is taking a different approach to stocking students and classrooms for the school year.

Did you know that public school lecturers spent $ 1.6 billion of their own fund on classroom supplyings during the 2012 school year? That’s almost $500 per educator out of their own paychecks, which usually aren’t all that deep to begin with.

So, for anyone keeping score at home, educators get paid crap, get blamed when they send home lengthy supply lists, and wind up having to dip into their own money to make up the difference. Oh, and the well-intentioned gift drives designed to help connect students with classroom tools often don’t run as well as they should.

If only there were, like, a magical free store where educators could go and get exactly what they need for their classroom without spending a dime or dealing with any red tape.

That’s precisely the vision behind Project Teacher .

Project Teacher is empowering lecturers to keep their classrooms equipped , not only at the beginning of the year, but all year long.

And they’re doing it for free.

A couple of educators shop at the Project Teacher free store. Photo by Ginger Skillen Photography.

Terry Johnson, the director of Project Teacher and whose spouse is an educator, told Upworthy he got the idea for a free render store for educators after assuring a narrative about a similar program in Portland.

Teacher in the Wichita area can make an appointment to come in and get exactly what they need for their classrooms no guesswork or one-size-fits-all gift lists all courtesy of corporate donations, hand me downs, and local fundraisers.

School supplyings, Terry tells, are so individually tailored by school, grade, and teacher, that it stimulates the most sense to set resources immediately in the hands of lecturers.

“Every little bit helps, but the educators know exactly what the classroom requires, ” he said.

Not all fifth-graders need the exact same supplyings. That’s why this free store stimulates so much sense. Photo by Ginger Skillen Photography.

This is about much more than simply building sure kids have markers and Kleenex.

Terry told me that about half of educators will leave the profession sometime in their first three years. Others say it happens sometime in the first five.

Either way, imagine the effects that has on kids, especially the ones in lower-income areas, when the young, passionate, energetic educators they desperately need are bailing on the profession because they can’t afford it anymore.

“If a kid can go through all 12 years of education and have an amazing experience, there’s a really good chance that the cycle of poverty in their family could violate, ” Terry told me.

“If we can equip educators to enjoy their chore, so that they’re excited about it, that scratch off on the students. It dedicates us an opportunity to really change the community.”

He’s right. Educators genuinely are heroes. And the more we support and champ them, the very best things are going to be for our kids .

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