“Back to school” means stockpiling pencils and Juicy Juice.  It also means big expenses for teachers.  Last year, according to ABC News, the average teacher in the US spent $448 on supplies for the classroom.  Ninety-two percent of teachers report spending some amount of their own money on educational materials.

Area teachers are asking for your help online

Two years ago, Asbury Park resident Heather Jensen sent me a link to a website where area teachers post requests for materials for their classroom.  I donated to purchase a large play mat for kindergarten students to congregate on for story time.  The notes of thanks I received from the kids were precious and invaluable.

Schools already spend a stunning amount of our money educating each child, with little return on investment to be seen on paper.  The system is a mess and there is no fix in sight.  The disaster in the Asbury Park school system is the most comprehensive and breathtaking example of the “blame game” I have ever seen.  But why should the few unjaded and dedicated teachers suffer?

Below are abbreviated postings from area teachers on DonorsChoose.com and AdoptaClassroom.com requesting supplies to kick off the 2011 school year right.  You can donate $10 or fulfill the entire request.

Asbury Park first graders learn on the "Carpet of Learning" donated by locals after reading a request online

Ms. P from Hope Academy, Asbury Park:

In order to meet the needs of all my students I teach in small groups.  The other learners need engaging hands-on activities to partake in!  I strive to make my classroom a warm, welcoming, whimsical and exciting place.  I want students to come in, forget their trouble and be excited to learn.  My students need Early Math Instant Learning Centers and Reading Skills Listening Packs ($337).  These resources will help my students remain engaged and practice targeted skills independently or in a small group. Please help us 1st grade learners learn!  Thank you!”

Ms. Coletta, Asbury Park High School:

“The technology available to the teachers and students is so old and outdated it barely works. Students lose their work frequently due to computer ‘break downs’.  We are also lacking basic supplies such as pencils, paper, useable chalkboards and or whiteboards along with any supplies needed for projects with an artistic flair. I myself spent nearly $2,000 of my own money on supplies for my students last year alone.”

Ms. Nightingale, Neptune Middle School:

“My classroom consists primarily of special needs students who reside in an urban area. Many are part of the foster care system who have learning disabilities and are emotionally disturbed.  As a teacher, I want my kids to have everything.  Their home lives are unfortunate and I try to compensate with a classroom that they deserve and look at as a safe place. This additional funding would provide me with the tools to continue to improve their learning environment with supplemental supplies, games, notebooks, pencils, calculators, and whatever else would equip my kids to be successful in school and life.”

Ms. Hall, Green Grove Elementary, Neptune:

“Our fifth grade classroom is in serious need of basic supplies like ink for the lone printer in our room, materials for in class science projects, as well as possible extras like a digital camera for class book projects.  I spend well over $2,000 a year on materials.  Our dream would be to have a projector so that we would have the ability to utilize our one classroom computer for presentations.  We thank you in advance for considering adopting our classroom.”

Sister Keating, Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park:

“The children find Art class a chance for freedom of expression, enjoyment and take great pride in their work. Funds are very limited and any Art materials would be greatly appreciated.  I would especially like a laminator because the children love to see their art work preserved.  Ours has been broken for two years.”

Ms. Devane, Summerfield School, Neptune:

“I am a Deaf Education teacher with a classroom that allows up to 8 preschoolers per class.  Most of the time, I have the essentials for my room.  I’m usually missing more specific items like fine motor, sensory products and assistive listening devices.  I’m always collecting items such as specialized scissors, writing utensils and things like weighted blankets (which are costly). Types of products I could use for the hearing devices are battery testers, cleaning products, etc.  As for the students, they love to see pictures of themselves, plus hearing impaired students are very visual learners. I take hundreds of pictures a year. We could always use more ink cartridges, paper and honestly anything you think a preschooler would enjoy!  It would be greatly appreciated.”