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Teachers taking more steps to help other teachers

Teachers across the country are taking classroom funding into their own hands.  Some say they’ve been buying school supplies for their classroom for a long time, but, they’re using new tools to fix that problem.

In years past, teachers have been paying for things kids would use in the classroom, like pencils or paper.  Now, they have to pay for things kids need outside of the classroom, like food and clothing.

“A few years ago, when I was a full-time teacher, there was an urgent need at one of our title one schools for snow boots.  We had a huge population of kids that were coming to school when there was snow on the ground, and they didn’t have snow boots,” says Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews.

The UEA praises recent legislative changes that provided more consistent ongoing money, which Matthews says is a step in the right direction.  However, she believes it’s not enough.  Luckily, there are many groups coming forward to fill the gaps.

Matthews says, “We have partners like the United Way who give backpacks.  We have churches that provide back to school basics and taking kids shopping.”

A relatively new social media group designed to help teachers is gaining popularity from all over the country.  The group “Support A Teacher” has members from California to Florida.  Founder Courtney Jones says she started it as a way for teachers to receive inspiring messages from people who support them.

“Often, it’s a lonely profession and I wanted to explain to teachers and have a ‘pay it forward’ campaign where we could support each other in ways that we might not be supported at our individual schools,” Jones says.

Since then, Jones says they’ve added options that allow people to donate funds or send gifts to teachers.  If people choose to donate through DonorsChoose, Jones says they can direct the money exactly where they want it to go.

She says, “You can fund a particular project by a particular teacher.  You can also search your state and you can go farther than that.  You could search for Utah and then a certain city or county, or a certain subject.”

Jones says their group even has members from Canada, The United Kingdom and Mexico who all say teachers are facing the same kinds of funding issues all over the world.