November 7, 2021

Southern Indiana bus brings free supplies to local teachers

Pencils in a classroom

Pencils in a classroom

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — It can be expensive to keep classrooms stocked with school supplies, so the Greater Clark County Schools Educational Foundation launched a Teacher Supply Bus for schools throughout the district. The free supplies range from markers to hand sanitizer. 

The bus tours schools in the fall and spring, and on Friday it was stationed at Northaven Elementary School in Jeffersonville. Each teacher can shop the bus once per school year and fill up a bag with up to 25 supplies.

Emily Oliver-Jones, executive director of the Greater Clark Educational Foundation, said she started asking teachers about their needs when she started working for the foundation several years ago.

"I was expecting them to say like some huge grand thing, and it ended up being that they needed supplies like pencils, dry erase markers," she said. "I went back to my board and told them, these teachers need school supplies, they're paying out of their own pockets for it, and how can we help? So along came the Teacher Supply Bus."

The foundation surveyed educators to see what kind of supplies were needed. The top five most requested items include hand sanitizers, dry erase marker, pencils, tissues and sanitizing wipes.
The bus itself was donated by the district, and Amazon is sponsoring the program. Lotus Sign and Design in Charlestown helped decorate the bus, which is covered with a blue and white polka dot design.

"It's really been a community project," Oliver-Jones said. "We've had local businesses who have done supply drives, and we have just really strong support."

In the future, Oliver-Jones hopes to expand the number of visits from the Teacher Supply Bus, and the foundation also plans to eventually involve Greater Clark students in the program.
Teachers are excited when they see the bus parked at the schools, she said.

"Teachers are so appreciative, and they get so excited over school supplies," Oliver-Jones said.

Lauren Cunliff, a third-grade teacher at Northaven Elementary, usually spends about $300 a year for school supplies in her classroom. She said she knows it can be a struggle for parents to buy school supplies, so the Teacher Supply Bus helps fill the classroom with the "extra supplies not every kid can bring in."

She cannot get enough pencils in her classroom, so that was one of the main items she stocked up on as she visited the bus, she said. Hand sanitizer and wipes have also become an essential supply during the pandemic.

"Everything on that bus is beneficial for us," she said.

Izzy Jordan, a special education teacher at Northaven Elementary, added a bag full of toys to her bag while shopping the Teacher Supply Bus, saying fidget toys are great for her students who like to keep their hands moving. Those types of items aren't found on school supply lists, so she often finds herself buying these type of objects out of pocket.

Jordan also stocked up on items such as dry erase markers and pencils.

"I feel like dry erase markers are a teacher's dream to be able to stock up on," Jordan said. "They dry out or kids push too hard on the markers."

She spends at least $200 or $300 for supplies for just a small caseload, she said.

Kelli Gualtieri, a third-grade teacher at Northaven Elementary, said being able to stock up on supplies is a big deal for her classroom. She spends at least $500 to $600 a year to supply her classroom. On Friday, she filled her bag with Post-it Notes, dry erase markers, pencils and hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

"It's so helpful," she said. "We spend a ton of money, and it's the little things that we have to provide. The supplies they bring in at the beginning of school go very quickly, so this is huge. And just to be thought of is really nice, too."
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Source: News and Tribune

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