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Sun, Jan. 19

'Teachers' Closet' to save money on classroom supplies

Prescott Unified Education Foundation board member Jane Robertson, a retired Abia Judd Elementary second-grade teacher, sifts through supplies in the Teachers’ Closet in the Family Resource Center in the Washington School District Office. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Prescott Unified Education Foundation board member Jane Robertson, a retired Abia Judd Elementary second-grade teacher, sifts through supplies in the Teachers’ Closet in the Family Resource Center in the Washington School District Office. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Retired Abia Judd Elementary second-grade teacher Jane Robertson knows what it is to keep a hidden stash of money so she can buy needed classroom supplies — such thing as crayons, glue sticks, notebook paper, folders, sticky notes and large boxes of tissues and hand wipes.

Ever the bargain hunter, Robertson admits she likely invested $500 a year to benefit her students.

Now a board member with the Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation, Robertson last spring pitched the idea of supplying some of what teachers need so that they don’t have to tap into their own resources to do so.

Foundation Executive Director Tami Phillips embraced Robertson’s vision.

A generous donation of about $6,500 from the foundation’s September Sip & Savor gala mixed, with a range of supply and monetary donations from area clubs, businesses and individuals, enabled the opening of what is called the “Teachers’ Closet,” literally a closet in the district Family Resource Center located on the second floor above the gymnasium in the rear of the Washington School district office.

Robertson and fellow retired teacher Carol Yetman proposed the closet space after they volunteered to clean out what over time had become a depository of unwanted junk. As the two sorted through it all, Robertson said they discovered “treasures among the trash.”

Once cleaned, the education duo thought it would be fitting to fill the shelves with donated supplies teachers could use in their classrooms.

As in all of the area districts, local clubs, charities, businesses and individuals throughout the year make donations to support teachers and students, everything from routine supplies to furniture and equipment the districts would otherwise be unable to afford.

Though the space is small, Robertson said teachers seem to appreciate that once a month they can come and restock their classrooms with supplies they would otherwise have to go to a store and buy.

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Discovery Gardens pre-school teacher Judy Ely shops for supplies for her classroom on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

As word spreads about the closet availability, Robertson said she is getting more and more shoppers.

If a teacher can’t find what he or she needs on the shelves, Robertson said she is happy to take requests — she just purchased 24 meter sticks for a science teacher at Mile High Middle School and magnifying classes for another one. On Tuesday, she got a new request for AA batteries.

“Oh my goodness! Now we don’t have to go out and buy all these things,” said Discovery Gardens pre-school teacher Judy Ely, who came on Tuesday to the once-a-month shopping excursion at the Teachers’ Closet. Ely was looking to pick up some art supplies, glue sticks and crayons. When she didn’t find any child watercolor paint sets, Robertson assured she’d add those to her shopping list and have them ready for Ely next month.

The Teachers' Closet is now open the second Tuesday of the month from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ely said last month she was able to pick up a stapler, as well as Post-It notes and tape.

“This has been so good to us,” Ely said.

“The goal is to make it so teachers don’t have to hide the Visa bill,” Robertson said.

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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