The Eagle's Eye

Supply the Teachers charity buys needed items for classrooms

Austin organization test pilots program that provides educators with items required in classes

Courtesy of Supply The Teachers

Courtesy of Supply The Teachers

Raidy Zanjeel, Staff Writer

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Dry erase markers, cleaning board spray, hand sanitizer and tissues. these are just a few of the basic supplies found in Social Studies teacher Henry Perez’s classroom.

Perez, who has taught for 25 years, says he spends about $200 to $300 each year on these kinds of supplies.

“If I didn’t buy (the supplies) myself out of my own pocket, then they wouldn’t be there at all,” he said.

That’s why long-time Austin ISD volunteer Melinda McKenna founded Supply the Teachers, an organization that gives teachers across Texas the resources that they need, two years ago. She served on the Clayton Elementary School Campus Advisory Committee for more than 10 years. She said that she saw firsthand the difficulties teachers encountered preparing and maintaining the supplies needed in their classrooms for their students.

McKenna said the lack of supplies is a big issue in Austin ISD because of school funding legislation. Texas has not passed any legislation that creates an allowance for teachers to purchase supplies with.

“The schools did not have the money to take care of them and I felt that was an unfair ‘custom’ that had grown too common,” McKenna said.

She said that she has known teachers who have spent hundreds of dollars out of pocket on supplies each year.

“We feel the community could help offset those costs by purchasing some of the basic supplies and having them delivered to the teacher of their choice,” she said.

Akins is one of the campuses that is test-piloting the program. Teachers choose from different types of boxes to be delivered. Here is an EC-6 box geared toward elementary and early middle school classrooms, an 8-12 packaged intended for middle and high school teachers, and a general education box meant to full the common needs of each age group.

Packages include supplies such as dry erase markers, highlighters, printer paper, crayons and colored pencils, Post-it Notes, pencils and pens. When a teacher wants a package, they order them through Supply the Teachers and the organization purchases the orders through Amazon to send to the teachers.

“Educators or teachers don’t have to do anything themselves to join our program,” McKenna said. “We have all the information for all the teachers in Austin ISD already.”

Christine McKenna, science teacher and Melinda McKenna’s daughter, worked to design what to put into the packages for different age groups. She and eight other teachers helped come up with the list of items for the packages.

Christine McKenna and other teachers serve on the board of Supply the Teachers as advisors with a teacher’s perspective.

“We’ve been working on getting a new website up and running so that teachers can request a supply box that has predetermined things in it,” she said.

Typically, teachers don’t receive any kind of funds from the school district to purchase supplies. In Austin ISD, most teachers have to spend their own money to have supplies for students.

STEM academy assistant principal Michael Jung said that when he first started as a math teacher, the district he worked for gave teachers $100 a year to buy supplies such as pencils, binders, spirals, dry erase markers.

Jung said he thinks Supply the Teachers’ mission is vital considering the lack of funding available for teachers to purchase supplies with.

“Our teachers need all the help they can get,” Jung said. “I think any teacher would benefit from free supplies for their classroom because ultimately, it benefits the kids.”

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About the Writer
Raidy Zanjeel, Staff Writer
Name: Raidy Zanjeel Grade: Senior, 12th grade Academy: STEM Year on Staff: Second year Title: Staff writer Why they are on staff? Good writer and hard working What do you do for fun? Shop, hangout with friends, clean, listen to music Plans for after high school? attend college and go further on education
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