It's not just parents loading on up back-to-school supplies this fall. School teachers across the country are trying to stock their classrooms with the needed supplies to carry out their curriculums, and for many, that means putting up their own money to cover the costs.
According to AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers spent an average of $750 of their own money during the 2021-22 school year to have what they needed on hand to fulfill their jobs. For TODAY's Back to School Supply Drive, we are teaming up with with AdoptAClassroom.org to help change that.
How to help
For TODAY’s Back to School Supply Drive, correspondents checked in with teachers throughout the country to get an idea of how much they’re spending to cover supplies for their students, and the numbers were staggering.
Ms. Paige Suhay, a teacher in Gibonston, Florida, who disclosed that she makes $60,000 a year, told TODAY’s Kerry Sanders that she spends between $1,500 to $2,300 in a given year on supplies. She also said she’s taking in a roommate to help cover the costs.
“I’m in my 40s, so I already lived the dorm room kind of college life with roommates,” she told Sanders. “Never thought I had to revisit this.”
But she is determined to provide the best possible learning environment for her students.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids faces, seeing kids five, 10, 15 years later, and they remember you as their teacher in their classroom,” she said. “They remember everything I’ve done in those classrooms.”
Here are what donations through AdoptaClassroom.org can buy:
• $5 buys 35 pencils, 25 crayons, two notebooks, five glue sticks
• $10 buys 70 pencils, one ream of paper, four notebooks, 10 glue sticks
• $25 buys 180 pencils, three reams of paper, 12 notebooks, 25 glue sticks
• $100 buys 710 pencils, 50 boxes of crayons, 12 reams of paper, 50 notebooks, 5100 sheets of paper, eight backpacks, nine children’s books, 100 glue sticks
NBC’s Jacob Soboroff spent time in Austin, Texas, with Mr. Fred Tabares, an art teacher who said it’s not unusual for him to buy supplies at the store for his students. He said that with the pandemic, he never wants to assume families have the resources to get all the supplies needed for the classroom.
“We didn’t want to assume that a student was living at home with a parent, with two parents that had a job a piece. We didn’t want to assume that a student had two parents,” Tabares said. “It might be a situation with multiple siblings and one parent and so even $5 , if my department asked for $5 and PE asked for $5 and science asked for $5 ... That’s 40 dollars so and then if you have five kids, 40 dollars a kid, that adds up.”
And with inflation being a major factor in shopping this year, supplies is coming at an even steeper price. The cost of pencils has risen 40 percent since 2020 while a ream of paper is up nearly 60 percent.
“These are your kids, and these are our kids too,” Tabares said. “And that sounds cheesy but when a kid comes in and they’ve had a bad day and they’re willing to talk to me about it, that’s trust I don’t take for granted.”
“Your kids are our kids,” he said. “This is the village that everyone talks about that it takes to raise your kids.”