Evansville teachers spend on average $400 out of their own pockets each year on classroom school supplies. A new initiative aims to chip away at that number.
A small sign on the wall outside an old classroom at the Academy for Innovative Studies marks it as the Teacher Locker. By the start of the upcoming school year, the room's shelves will be stocked with pencils, books, and more, all available to teachers at no cost.
But the shop won’t just provide free supplies. Reitz High School chemistry teacher Nora Walsh says it will also be a place for teachers to share ideas.
"A retired teacher might have an activity that worked really well for them, and they pass it on to Teacher Locker and a new teacher comes in and says ‘I never thought about teaching it that way before. That’s very creative," Walsh says.
Teachers will buy supplies through a point system, although the exact details are not yet finalized.
The store is scheduled to open this August. It will be open to elementary school teachers in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC), with plans to expand in the future.
The store is a collaboration among several local organizations, including the Public Education Foundation, the EVSC Foundation, and the Area Council PTA.
The committee behind the project surveyed around 250 teachers with the help of the Evansville Teachers Association and found that teachers were spending hundreds of dollars on classroom materials.
They're looking for donors and volunteers. They're also asking retired teachers to donate materials they’ve gathered throughout their decades in their classrooms.