School supplies ready for teachers

Published 9:09 am Thursday, September 6, 2018

There’s nothing like opening a door and seeing a box full of Elmer’s glue sticks – free for the taking.

For teachers in the Davie County School System, that is exciting.

In an effort to provide school supplies where they are needed, the United Way of Davie County has opened a Teachers’ Supply Closet at the office on Country Lane in Mocksville, where teachers can go every Tuesday from 4-6 p.m. to get what they – or their students – need.

Melinda Beauchamp, United Way chief executive officer, said the agency tried to coordinate bookbags filled with school supplies, but other groups were doing the same thing.

One of the premises of the United Way is to provide needed services not provided elsewhere. She had seen where teacher closets were successful in other places and decided to start one here.

“We could serve our teachers who deserve it, and help our students accomplish more. Our teachers end up spending an average of $500 to $1,000 a year on school supplies,” she said. “They do not need to be doing that. Why is that burden on our teachers? Why don’t we bless them with something they can use that will help them?”

Teachers were ecstatic.

Angela Watson, a teacher at William Ellis Middle School, said she jumped for joy when she saw the box filled with Elmer’s glue sticks. It’s unbelievable how many of those students and teachers use during the year, she said.

She loves the Davie County School System, and said it does everything it can for teachers. It is one of the reasons she moved to Davie County, and according to Beauchamp, one of the reasons many families move to Davie County.

“The need is so great,” Watson said. “We all need to look out for each other.”

Beauchamp pointed out that 47 percent of students in Davie schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Teachers don’t mind spending their own money, said Davie High teacher Jaime Johnson. But to have the needed items on hand for free makes teaching here even better. She has 90 students, and had to pass out four composition notebooks on the day of the interview.

“We know this will make our lives and our students’ lives a little easier,” she said. “I felt like a kid on Christmas morning just to get basic school supplies.”

“Like a kid in a candy store,” Watson said.

“This is not junk,” Johnson said. “This is good, name brand stuff that we would have purchased with our own money.”

The closet is manned by retired educators.

Only a few weeks into the program, and space is already a concern. It is housed in a former storage room. “This is better than I really dreamed of,” Beauchamp said, who is dreaming of a separate facility next door to house the items.

There’s copy paper, tissues, Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, notebooks, folders. The list goes on and on, as do the needs. Cash donations are the most welcome, because that way, the United Way can purchase the items teachers say they most need. They’re always on the lookout for those items on sale. People brining in items for the closet is OK, but with limited storage, they don’t want items that aren’t needed or wanted.

Churches and civic groups are already making donations, as are individuals like Mia Calamusa, who makes donations with her moms support group.

“It takes more than one person to raise a good human being,” Calamusa said. “Giving to those who have such a huge influence on our kids’ lives … and that goes to exactly what our teachers and students need, is an easy decision.”

Watson said not only teachers, but every employee at Davie schools, cares about the children, from the custodians to the cafeteria workers, from teacher assistants to volunteers.

“As a mom, I love programs like this,” Calamusa said. “We’re really pulling together.”

Watson said there are various reasons students don’t have enough or proper school supplies, and programs like this can help those children get out of a cycle.