Wyoming’s Parkview Elementary School teachers demonstrated their love for new school supplies at the Teacher Resource Store, where they left with cartloads of notebooks, pencils, folders, paper and the promise to “pay it forward.”
“Oh my gosh! Look at how cute these Post-it notes are!” one teacher squealed, delighted to receive a full bag of whimsically decorated sticky notes for her classroom.
As teachers prepared their classrooms this summer, they took advantage of a new resource aimed to alleviate the cost burden of school supplies in low-income schools.
The Storehouse of Community Resources, located in a portion of Frontline Community Church, 4411 Plainfield Ave. NE, includes the Teacher Resource Store. There, teachers from schools with at least 70 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-lunch rates can shop together as a staff twice a year for just $50 per school. Recently it was Parkview teachers’ turn to stock up.
“There are so many things I buy at Meijer all summer long,” said Parkview teacher Angela Clum, whose cart was filled with necessities. “It is tremendous that we can have this as a resource.”
Former teacher Jessica Johns started the volunteer-run Storehouse last October with supplies from World Vision, a global humanitarian organization. It also includes the Essentials store, where low-income families can shop monthly for toiletries, household goods and hygiene items.
Johns, a former teacher at inner-city schools in Indiana, said Teacher Resource Store helps fill a need tied to social justice. A Frontline Church member, Johns served on the missions and outreach team and worked to start a community center. That idea evolved into the Storehouse.
Relieving Cost to Teachers
Teachers, especially in low-income schools, spend hundreds of dollars annually to stock their classrooms, and many students rely completely on schools for supplies, said store coordinator Michaela Krull, a Grand Rapids Public Schools elementary school teacher.
“We really want to help the teachers that don’t have really strong parent ability to offer financial help,” Krull said. “Those teachers are buying everything – 100 percent of their school supplies.
“I’ve been a recipient of these supplies, and I know how burdensome it can be financially to buy all those things yourself.”
When Krull first utilized the store as a shopper in April, she realized what a gift to the community it was. Items coveted by many a teacher — Expo markers, ASTROBRIGHTS paper and pre-sharpened Ticonderoga pencils — were available for the taking. “We posed for pictures with the supplies and everything, we were so excited.”
‘Those teachers are buying everything – 100 percent of their school supplies.’ — Michaela Krull, Grand Rapids Public Schools teacher
So far, Wyoming, Godwin Heights, Godfrey-Lee, Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming and Northview public schools teachers have shopped, and more schools are on a wait-list. Johns hopes to serve more schools in the near future.
Besides the $50 per school fee, the only other requirement is that teachers “pay it forward” in some way that involves their students and community.
Parkview Principal Katie Jobson said about 90 percent of her students are economically disadvantaged.
“This frees up teachers to use resources in other ways,” Jobson said. “It’s fantastic and what a neat message to pay it forward.”