No, teachers, you should not have to panhandle for pencils and paper.
Back in July, an Oklahoma teacher made headlines after she stood on a highway overpass with a sign: “Teacher needs school supplies! Anything helps.”
Initially, the third-grade teacher raised $32 and a lot of awareness. She later appeared on Good Morning America, and a GoFundMe request she has set up has exceeded $28,000 in donations.
It does not have to be this hard.
More than a year ago, I was facing my first year as a middle school Spanish teacher and needed, well, everything. Classroom supplies, décor from Spanish-speaking countries, CDs — you name it.
Before the start of school, I went on a Facebook page where people in my community exchange ideas and seek help for various things. I named my school and asked for anything from stickers to sombreros … and it worked.
All kinds of strangers reached out with offers of cool things. The biggest windfall came from an area high school teacher who had cleaned out a storage closet full of Spanish-language CDs, books, and games. All I had to do was go pick the items up.
Later in the year, a similar post yielded more than 100 personal-sized whiteboards. Some were new, some were used, and all were badly needed. My classroom’s set had not been replaced in 15 years.
School districts themselves have caught on to the trend and are making it easier for teachers to reach out to their communities.
Jim Cummings, a spokesman for the Glendale Elementary School District, said few teachers in his district use traditional social media because the district has set up easy email systems that reach parents in a snap. Teachers can also put requests on their school web pages.
Both districts have approval processes teachers must use before putting requests on DonorsChoose. Presently there are 50 requests for funds on the site by Mesa Schools educators.
Even if your school district does not have a policy about social networking or crowd sourcing for funds, it’s probably a good idea to check with your principal before putting your request out there.
After my success with the white board solicitation, I asked my school’s front office staff if they wanted me to go ahead and try for a new photocopy machine. I was politely told no.
Apparently, there are procedures for that.
Cathryn Creno is a former newspaper reporter and editor who now teaches middle school Spanish.