As a newly graduated teacher, our main question was, Where's the free stuff?? Because honestly, what grad student can afford to buy the basic stuff they need for their classroom, much less decorate their classroom to Pinterest standards??
For those of you who have hit this page, my hope is that I can provide you with a few Memphis freebies that I discovered over the last year.
New Teacher Orientation
I've heard new teachers ask time and again, "Will we really learn anything at the new teacher orientation because I just don't really have the time/don't really want to go/already made plans?" My answer to that is, "GO". Number one, you really will learn some stuff especially if you go in with the mindset that you're going to pick up one or two things you didn't know already know. Yes, it's long. Yes, you will sleep with your eyes open sometimes. BUT, you will also be able to visit a ton of vendors who are dying to give you FREE STUFF. You will also get FREE FOOD and CHOCOLATE. So go. You'll meet other new teachers, you'll be able to network, and you'll have drinking buddies who will serve as a sounding board for when the first nine weeks have ended and you find yourself questioning your life choices.
I discovered this little gem last year. SchoolSeed works hard to raise money for Shelby County Schools in various programs, but one of the things they do for teachers is provide a teacher store where teachers can grab a grocery cart and get supplies FOR FREE. Go to schoolseed.org and click on the Teacher Toolkit picture on the left side about halfway down. You'll register and then you'll pick a time to go in and get your supplies. That time has a window of 30 minutes so while you have more than 30 minutes to shop, you need to arrive within 30 minutes of your registered time. Elementary, Middle, and High all have their own supply lists. You have access to this once a month for the entire year. They have reams of paper, highlighters, markers, notebooks, pencils, pens, and the list goes on. Show some love to Sam when you get there. He works hard to be sure this store stays up and running for us. AND you get a special little supply kit courtesy of Kroger:
Now isn't that just cool??
While I can't vouch for every school, most give their new teachers a welcome bucket that contains whatever their budgets allow. I was able to get quite a bit at mine: an electric pencil sharpener (disclaimer: You WILL go through one every year so if the opportunity presents itself to get more than one, go for it.), a couple of reams of paper, Expo markers, erasers, whiteboard cleaner, pens, pencils, highlighters...
You also should get $100-200 for spending in your classroom. The particulars are different for every school, but we were allowed to buy supplies from Office Depot and the supplies were delivered to the school for us.
When I was a student teacher, I heard whispers of this magical place that housed free furniture for classrooms - filing cabinets, bookcases, you name it. Someone else mentioned it during my first year of teaching. No one, however, knew quite where it was or who to talk to about it. It was a magical pot of teaching gold at the end of the rainbow. I did finally manage to track someone down and she let me know that yes, such a place existed, but no, you couldn't just go in there and get what you want. There was a process and you had to know what you need beforehand. So! Go to the Shelby County Schools website at http://www.scsk12.org/, click on Employees, click on Central Office Directory over there on the right towards the bottom, select the office of Business Administration and look for Warehouse Supervisor. You'll see multiple ones - just call the Department Number. You tell them you need such and such and they'll tell you whether they have such and such and arrangements will be made. I haven't actually gone through this process yet so if I'm off a little bit, please forgive me. Also, please let me know what additional steps need to be taken so I can update it here.
Teachers get all kinds of cool, free, and heavily discounted items. I get a great 20% discount with ATT, I get a not-so-great discount with Apple, but it covers a little more than tax which is good. Plenty more discounts are out there to be had with a Google search, but the ones I suggested above are the ones specific to Shelby County Schools in Memphis, TN and hopefully will help you get going this year. Have fun, stock up, and may the odds be ever in your favor this year! :D
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