How teachers use technology to save on school supplies

In a few weeks, kids head back to class. But for a lot of teachers, their summer break is over. They are getting ready for another school year and that means buying school supplies.

Kaisha Louis, a sixth-grade teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School, likes to make her lessons as attention-grabbing as possible.

“We have a lot of standards we have to get through during the school year,” Louis said. “It’s really important for them to really want to go over their standards.”

That includes everything from interactive notebooks to hands-on projects and motivational candy.

“It’s really good and engaging for the students,” Louis said. “But, it kind of gets a little pricey sometimes.”

A couple of hundred dollars a year, pricey.

While she takes advantage of the teacher sales at big box stores, she said those visits add up.

To help reduce costs, Louis shops at thrift stores and on social media.

Louis even created the Facebook page, Teachers of Lee County Swap, where teachers can trade or sell supplies.

“Teachers from Lee County, Charlotte County, they’ve gone on there and post things they don’t need,” Louis said, “if they’re switching from third grade to sixth grade.”

For projects beyond the school budget, Louis uses Donor’s Choose, which is a website where teachers can upload a wishlist and anyone can donate items.

“Being able to put that out there for people to contribute is really, really nice,” Louis said.

Some teachers also keep an Amazon wishlist.

Teachers receive a supplies stipend from the state and local districts tell us it is between $200 to $300 per year. But hundreds of teachers took a WINK News poll. Our results show that more than a third said they spend at least $600 a year on top of that.

“It’s so worth it,” Louis said. “Like that light bulb that just pops up above their head, and they want to keep going, that’s worth every cent honestly.”

The community can also help out schools without spending any extra money. On some household items like cereal or plastic bags, are Box Tops for Education valued at ten cents a piece.

Class photo from students at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School. (Credit: Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School)
Class photo from students at Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School. (Credit: Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School)

Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School principal Dr. Nathan Shaker says their Box Top funds go toward expenses associated with the Special Olympics, and competition registrations– like robotics competitions, or math team events.

Charlotte County tells us their Box Tops funds go towards things like student and teacher supplies, field trips and yearbooks.

Louis says people can also donate their time by offering to be a career speaker or volunteering for their children’s events.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
Writer:Michael Mora