With just a few more weeks left of summer vacation, teachers are turning to social media and their peers to help purchase resources for their classrooms. Now, thanks to a Facebook group opened on July 1, Support A Teacher and the trending hashtag #ClearTheList have resulted in teachers across the nations giving and receiving essential items to ensure that their classrooms are conducive to learning.
Last month, Courtney Jones, a third-year teacher in Texas, started the first Support A Teacher Facebook group to encourage teachers to purchase items off their back-to-school lists. That one Facebook group has grown into 56 Facebook regional groups, as well as Instagram and Twitter accounts, which, in total, boast over 70,000 members.
"I was inspired to start Support A Teacher to give teachers a place to support each other and spread some joy and love through gifts," Jones told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Seeing as how public school teachers spend, on average in the United States, $479 of their own money on supplies for the classroom ($230 over the federal tax deduction), even a small gift can help an educator provide for their students.
"With the lack of appropriate funding for education, I knew that we needed to take it upon ourselves to support each other, to help get the resources we need for our classrooms," Jones said. "Teachers are selfless in nature and always give everything to everyone else, and I wanted a platform for teachers to get back what they deserve."
While Jones is blown away by the movement's growth, she says she isn't surprised. She, in part, credits Support A Teacher's popularity to teachers being underpaid and unable to afford high-quality resources for their classrooms. However, she believes the community of teachers has helped the cause thrive.
"Combine [lack of funding] with teachers eager to improve their teacher toolbox and in turn change the quality of the education their students receive, and you have the equation for a massive explosion just as we have seen," Jones explained. "Teachers are caring, loving and always seeking out communities to collaborate and a place to learn from one another."
In order to participate, teachers can make wishlists on Amazon, or other online shops like Barnes & Noble and Target, and share it in one of the groups. From there, other teachers or donors can purchase the gift and send it to the teacher.
The results of Support A Teacher speak for themselves.
Teachers whom I’ve never met before, friends and family members helped fill my bookshelf with new books for my first graders! Someone also purchased those teal and yellow book bins you see! Fellow teachers, go create your amazon wishlist and follow @SUPPORT_A_TEACH #clearthelist pic.twitter.com/3kvyXAy053— Megan Pearson (@MeganPe93484560) August 1, 2019
Thank you so much to my fellow teachers at #support_a_teach for gifting me these items for my class. My students will have so much fun. Help support teachers! https://t.co/6enLonbfa7 #clearthelist pic.twitter.com/Xl2yJXvN3p— Courtney Milburn (@cjmilburn06) July 31, 2019
While Jones has received many donations from fellow teachers, she believes the cause itself has been the greatest gift.
"Overall the most meaningful stories have been the ones from teachers, old and new, that have said how much this movement has invigorated them, refreshed them, given them purpose and drive, and how it’s picked up their spirits," Jones told Yahoo. "Oftentimes, this profession is hard and we are under appreciated, so to see so many teachers feeling refreshed is amazing."
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