Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

This week an Oklahoma teacher made the news by panhandling. Not for herself or her family, but to improve her students’ lives. She reportedly spends $2,000-3,000 of her $35,000 annual salary each year on classroom supplies and state budget cuts are making it more difficult for her to do her job. Though she was surprised at the response, receiving $80 in 20 minutes (which by the way is more than her hourly salary), this is not how she should be spending her summer.

Though many do not realize it, teachers paying for supplies out of pocket is nothing new. Even in rather affluent school districts, teachers throughout the U.S. report spending several hundred dollars each year to provide not only classroom supplies, rewards and snacks but also to pay for field trips for families who don’t have the funds to do so themselves. And this is seen as perfectly acceptable. Most teachers today do so without thinking twice about it and many can’t even claim a tax deduction for these purchases.

Years ago, when my children were small, I had a neighbor who complained every time there was a school fundraiser, asking “Don’t my taxes pay for that?” While is seems reasonable to assume, tax dollars often cover only the very basics: costs involved with physically running the schools and salaries and benefits for school employees. Any “extras” from rugs for kindergarten “circle time,” to books for the class library, dry erase markers for the whiteboard, and tissues for snotty noses, are funded by parents or in many cases, the teachers. As federal and state education budgets are getting smaller, teachers are faced with either making do with less or spending more of their own money to make sure their students’ education doesn’t suffer.

We want our teachers to be creative, to think out of the box and engage our children. We praise their creativity when they find innovative ways to make lessons relevant and interesting. We tend to overlook the costs. Tax funded schools supply books and in some cases, hands-on teaching kits. Anything else is usually provided by the teacher and there are not always funds to reimburse them for these purchases. Anyone who frequents craft or office supply stores can tell you how quickly costs add up.

Those parents who dutifully make the trip to Target or Staples for supplies in August or September feel the pain at the register, but they are only shopping for their own children. Sure you may have dutifully purchased the 72 #2 pencils on the school supply list, but three months in: 17 have been loaned to friends, 3 are rolling around the bus, 7 have been chewed by the dog, 5 are lost in the couch cushions, 4 are under the bed, 28 are somewhere at the bottom of the backpack, 1 is under the car seat, 2 were left in the cafeteria, 3 are at the back of the desk, which leaves 2 to be found, and one for some mysterious reason, won’t stay sharpened. Now Billy needs a pencil to take a math test, so Miss White reaches into her desk and pulls one out for him, as she has done for 15 other students this month.

It’s not only pencils. Miss White also has a personal stash of other common supplies (like the 22 glue sticks on the supply list) to “loan” to students who don’t have their own. And like the inspirational posters, charts on the walls, the books in the bookcase and likely even that bookcase, all these things were purchased by Miss White, out of her own pocket.

It makes one wonder: Is this something included in the teacher certification test? Are new teachers warned that they may be spending the equivalent of several days’ pay to make sure their students have what they need to learn? Are they told that their first classroom will have nothing but desks in it and they will have few if any resources to make it welcoming? Are there seminars in how to supply your classroom on a budget? And, why would they want a job that requires them to pay for supplies that other people use?

Why do they do it? Because they care about “their kids.” Teaching is not a profession to go into for the money. Most teachers put in 50 or more hours a week and are perpetual students themselves (continual education is often a requirement to maintaining certification). Their evenings are spent grading and/or preparing lesson plans, going over IEPs or researching ways to help kids learn better, responding to parent emails and searching eBay and Craigslist for deals on items to use in their classrooms. Summers may be spent working a second job to help make ends meet and/or while taking classes to keep current with educational standards. A teacher spending a sweltering summer day standing on a busy street, holding a sign begging for school supplies is going way over and above. Can you see any other professional going to these lengths to ensure success?

Please, if you have the means, when shopping for school supplies or if you happen to see them on sale, pick up a couple extra and send them to school. Our teachers have plenty of things to worry about. Begging for school supplies shouldn’t be one of them.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Kimberly Yavorski

Kimberly Yavorski is a freelancer and mom of four who writes frequently on the topics of parenting, education, social issues and the outdoors. She is always searching for things to learn and new places to explore. Links to her writing and blogs can be found at

Brothers Fight Hard and Love Harder

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys play outside, one lifting the other on his back

The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days. Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends. Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck,...

Keep Reading

Stop Putting an Expiration Date on Making Memories

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and son in small train ride

We get 12 times to play Santa (if we’re lucky). This phrase stopped my scroll on a Sunday evening. I had an idea of the direction this post was going but I continued on reading. 12 spring breaks 12 easter baskets 20 tooth fairy visits 13 first days of school 1 first date 1-2 proms 1-2 times of seeing them in their graduation cap and gown 18 summers under the same roof And so on and so on. It was essentially another post listing the number of all the monumental moments that we, Lord willing, will get to experience with our...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

Go Easy On the Parents Who Refuse to Skip Naps

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two little boys and their sister walking down a gravel road, color photo

Greetings from a mom who is done with napping children. It’s great to have the flexibility during the day for longer activities, meeting friends for playdates, or day trips to faraway places. It’s a new life . . . the life without naps. The freedom to make plans and keep them. But not that long ago, I was something very different than the flexible, plan-keeping, up-for-it woman I am today. I used to be the mom who refused to skip my child’s nap. Yep, that one. Here’s the thing, for a lot of parents, It’s so much more than just a...

Keep Reading

My Heart Isn’t Ready for You to Stop Believing in Santa

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing in front of lit christmas tree

“My friend doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, Mom,” my son said out of the blue the other day. We were driving in the car, and when I met his gaze in the rear-view mirror his eyes searched mine. Immediately, my heart sank.  This sweet boy, he’s our first. Thoughtful and smart and eight years old. A quick Google search tells me that’s the average age kids stop believing in Santa, but as his mom, I’m not ready for that—not even a little bit.  I can still hear his barely 2-year-old voice going on about reindeer as we lay together on...

Keep Reading

Motherhood is a Million Little Letting Gos and Fresh Hellos

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with child on her lap by the setting sun and water

I missed my grocery-shopping buddy the other day. Mondays are usually the days my littlest and I knock out our grocery list. In the past, we’ve dropped the kids at school and then headed to the store. I grab a latte, and she chooses a hot chocolate. But that day, they were all in school. That day, she sat in her kindergarten class, and I went to the grocery store. Alone. A new rhythm. A changed routine. A different season. I listened to a podcast on the drive. My podcast. Then I grabbed a drink. Just one. I got the...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, This Is My Wish for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother hugs three kids

To my kids, The world you’re stepping into is unlike anything I experienced at your age. It’s fast-paced, interconnected, and sometimes overwhelming. But within this chaos lie countless opportunities for growth and joy. My wish for you is that you find the perfect balance between embracing the modern world and staying true to yourselves. Change is one thing you can always count on. Embrace it because it’s often the motivation for growth. Embracing change doesn’t mean letting go of who you are; rather, it’s about evolving into the best version of yourself. Remember, you don’t need to have all the...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Stay Wild

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach, color photo

I can’t really put my finger on it. Or manage to find all the words. But there’s just something about that girl. Maybe it’s the way her hair sits tangled. Curled up at the end. The way she moves. Dances. As if everyone was watching. Or no one at all. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine It could be the way she smiles. With her heart. The way only she can. The way she cares, loves. For everyone. For herself. You see, she is beautiful in the way only wild things are. The way they...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading