April 16, 2018
Imagine that you just got hired for a new job. You’re filled with excitement as you begin your first day, ready to start your new journey! You walk in, and as you’re just starting to get settled, they tell you something surprising: They have run out of computers, so if you want to use one, you’ll need to pay $1,000 to order one for the office. Now, this isn’t the usual scenario for office workers, but it is the norm for teachers in our community.
Every year, thousands of teachers head into their classrooms ready to teach, but find their supplies dwindle over time or are not available from the get go. Teachers know that if children are without the right supplies, they are unable to perform to the best of their ability, causing them to struggle and fall behind. No teacher wants that — so they step up to the plate to provide much needed supplies to their students out of their own wallet.
Studies show that teachers spend on average $500 of their own money providing supplies to their classroom. For Wynsda Watson, a 4th grade teacher at Indiana Math & Science Academy North, that amount is much more. “I estimate that I spend about $1,000 or more over the course of a school year to stock my classroom,” she says. “I spend my own money on classroom supplies because it is not always in the school budget to buy things needed. I have always taught in low-income area schools, so school supplies aren’t always in the parents’ budget either.”
Faced with limited supplies and trying to support students whose parents may not be able to provide school items adds up quickly for Wynsda, yet she knows supplies are an integral part of being able to learn. “If I didn’t supplement the supplies needed, there would be a very basic learning experience. I would have to teach directly from the book and hope and pray that I always had pencils available for every student. I supplement my classroom with not only basic school supplies but also technology, cleaning supplies, Kleenex, science experiment needs and enrichment activity needs,” she says.
Learning takes place in the classroom and at home, which is why Wynsda believes it is so important to provide for those students who may not have access to the supplies they need at home. “A fully stocked classroom would benefit my students by allowing them to have unlimited access to the school supplies they need not only in class but also at home. I frequently have to send pencils home because my students don’t have pencils at home. When we do projects they often ask me to borrow one of our classroom pencil boxes with the art supplies they need to complete their projects,” she says.
Like most teachers, Wynsda goes above and beyond for every single student who enters her classroom. “When students don’t have something, I feel the need to buy it for them as they are more than my student — they are my children. If they need belts I buy them, if they need a ride home so they can stay for tutoring or clubs I provide it, and if they need food for the weekend I share our class snacks or make sure they get an extra weekend survival pack. I am more than just their teacher; I am their school parent. I will always be there for them no matter the cost to me,” she says.
We are thankful for teachers like Wynsda who are devoting themselves to not only teaching the next generation, but caring for them as well. If you’d like to help teachers like Wynsda provide for their classrooms and students, consider donating to Restock the Classroom, which provides 3,000 teachers throughout Central Indiana totes full of much needed supplies. “A fully stocked classroom would mean the world to me. It would allow me to teach beyond the textbook and allow my students some creative leeway in lessons. It would also lessen stress I feel as a teacher,” Wynsda says.
If you would like to help teachers like Wynsda in our community, please consider donating to Restock the Classroom today.