by Laura Bartolomeo
According to a survey by the National School Supply and Equipment Association, published June 2013, teachers reported spending on average almost $500 of their own money on their classrooms.
As an elementary music teacher in IPS for the past ten years, here are some resources I’ve used to get classroom items FREE (or almost free).
IPS Education Foundation & DonorsChoose.org
Many teachers are used to DonorsChoose.org funding classroom equipment and supplies. Less frequently seen, but wonderful dream projects can include class trips, visitors, apparel, and SNACKS! Last spring, the IPS Education Foundation matched over $55K of IPS teachers’ DonorsChoose projects! Be ready for another matching opportunity this year!
Even with the annual $35 fee, this is an amazing resource! They offer everything, from basic school supplies like paper, pencils, erasers and crayons to art and craft supplies, books, file cabinets and desk chairs. Located at 1800 East 10th St. in Indianapolis, teachers can shop once a month throughout the school year. Learn more here: http://teacherstreasures.org/
AdoptAClassroom.org partners donors with teachers so you can have funds to purchase critical resources and materials for your classroom. By registering, your classroom will be posted on the AdoptAClassroom.org website available for donors to select. When adopted, you will have full discretion to purchase items that meet your unique classroom needs.
Whatever your school calls it, it is ALWAYS a great idea to contact your school’s parent-teacher organization. Whether your organization is established, newly formed, or in a state of flux, it’s worth letting this group know of your needs.
Depending on your subject area/grade level, there usually is a related central administration department. As a music teacher, the IPS music repair department has been a valuable resource. I’ve been able to get instruments, repairs, and replacement parts. Investigate central district departments for your subject/area.
To learn about other free resources, communicate your dreams to administrators, parents, students, and other teachers.
Many times, when your needs are made known, someone will come up with a way to help.
Online searching and social media can also yield amazing results, pointing you to a resource which will help make your classroom dreams come true!