Heather Goodhart sat in the middle of her classroom in East Middle School, the walls around her decorated with posters, word charts, decorations and a wall of books, just days before the start of the 2017-18 school year.

The teacher of more than two decades was preparing for back-to-school night and the first day of classes, getting the room set up with supplies and new technology. There was an Edgar Allan Poe poster, some old foil balloons hung around it. There were lights at each computer station so that when kids need help, they can signify by turning the lights on. There was a stuffed bulldog — the school's mascot — sitting outside the classroom door.

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Goodhart, who has been teaching since 1991 and at East Middle since 1994, has been building up her supplies, her decorations and her library throughout most of her career, much of it coming out of her own pocket.

When she was buying books to fill the now-full classroom library, Goodhart estimates she was spending at least $1,000 each year on supplies for her room. She's added over 3,000 books to the classroom library.

Since that library has gotten full and she's stopped buying books, she estimates that she spends between $500 and $600 a year on other supplies.

"I just want to have the best classroom for my kids," the English language arts resource teacher said. "I try to offer an engaging classroom."

Goodhart is not alone in this.

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Teachers on average spend $530 of their own money on items for classroom or student use a year, with teachers in high-poverty schools spending nearly 40 percent more than other teachers, according to the 2016 Teacher and Principal School Report through Scholastic.

The report showcases the results of a national survey of more than 4,700 public school Pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade educators on critical issues affecting schools and districts across the country, according to Scholastic.

Many, like Goodhart, have created libraries in their classrooms. Both teachers (56 percent) and principals (41 percent) are spending their own money on books. While 89 percent of teachers have classroom libraries, regardless of school poverty level, 31 percent have fewer than 50 books, according to the report. The average number of books in teachers' classroom libraries is 254 but overall, the size is affected by grade level, subjects taught and years of experience, the report shows.

In Carroll, there is some money available from individual schools and the individual school's Parent-Teacher Organizations to help reimburse educators for these items. Carroll County Public Schools spokeswoman Carey Gaddis said how much money comes from those groups is decided school-by-school and PTO-by-PTO.

As for school supply lists that teachers send out to parents at the start of each year, Gaddis said that list is based off a larger list of items in the county. Teachers can choose to add any of the items on the list from the county and include it on their own lists. They don't have to use all the items on the county list, Gaddis said, but they cannot choose items that aren't on the county list.

Even still, Goodhart said, "it's just these little things that add up" each year.

But to her, it's worth it. Teaching is "an awesome job," she said, because she gets to see kids grow.

"That's my job," she said. "It's to make them successful."

That desire to make sure students are successful, no matter the cost, is one many teachers in the Carroll County Public Schools system share.

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Demetria Hensley, a special education teacher at Runnymede Elementary School, said she's been teaching in CCPS since 1994. Hensley too said she's gotten help from the school system and PTO, something she said she's very grateful for, though on average, spends at least $200 of her own money in supplies each year. And in talking with coworkers, she said, many teachers she knows spend upward of $500 each year on supplies.

Hensley regularly buys school supplies, stickers, organizational tools and other items to make the learning experience fun for the kids, she said.

"We love to reward the kids a lot," she added.

And as teachers, they want to give them everything they need. She's gone as far as buying book bags for children who don't have them, she said.

"We do it because we care, we love our students," Hensley said.

INFO BOX FOR PRINT ONLY:

By the numbers — what teachers spend

  • According to the 2016 Teacher and Principal School Report through Scholastic, the teachers in the survey spent $530 of their own money on items for classroom or student use a year
  • Teachers in high-poverty schools spending nearly 40 percent more than other teachers
  • Both teachers — 56 percent — and principals — 41 percent — are spending their own money on books
  • While 89 percent of teachers have classroom libraries, regardless of school poverty level, 31 percent have fewer than 50 books
  • The average number of books in teachers’ classroom libraries is 254 but overall, the size is affected by grade level, subjects taught and years of experience.


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