It seems like we were just heralding the arrival of summer and suddenly its time for back-to-school shopping, with some areas of the country already in session. As you pick out backpacks, pencils, and cool binders with bells and whistles (anybody remember the Trapper Keeper–the must have binder of the early 80's?), don't forget to pick up a few extra supplies for your child's teacher.
Supplies for the teacher, you ask? Isn't that what my tax dollars cover? Sadly, not even close and continued budget cuts during this economic downturn aren't helping. I didn't realize myself, until a stint as a tutor in our local school system, that many students come to class each day unprepared, with little to no supplies–no paper, no pencils, just showing up. Many of their parents are struggling to pay for basic living expenses, such as food, water, and shelter and there simply are no funds left for school supplies. Unfortunately, there is no magic supply closet available for teachers to pull from either. So when push comes to shove, teachers end up buying the basics, such as paper and pencils, so that they can equip their students to learn. Did you know that only $250 of school related expenses are tax deductible for teachers? And the average teacher spends $493 a year of their own money, with 7% of all teachers topping $1000 (via National School Supply and Equipment Association)!
Teachers are often overworked, underpaid, and dealing with the stress of testing expectations and meeting stringent standards. If we can help, even in the smallest of ways, we should. So, consider adding a few packs of paper and pencils to your cart and presenting it to your child's teacher on the first day of school. If you'd rather purchase their most specific needs, ask them what they are. I guarantee they will tell you and will be most appreciative of any resources that you contribute to the classroom!
And if you really want to make a big impact, with little effort, open this service opportunity up to your church congregation. Each year, we collect supplies during the month before school starts and distribute them to the 3 teachers in our congregation. No teachers in your church? Adopt one from your closest local school. Or just collect the supplies and have your pastor deliver them along with prayers for a great school year to the principal on opening day.
Be sure to check here to see if your state offers a Tax Free holiday for back-to-school shoppers and get a little extra bang for your buck!