PERRYVILLE, Ark. – As we inch closer to the start of a new school year, teachers are already back at school setting up their classrooms. However, that comes at a cost, leaving many districts and even teachers footing some of the bills.
This year, some teachers are getting much-needed help from the community.
“I don’t know if we could do it without extra help from the community,” said Leslie Harden, who is a teacher in Central Arkansas.
Two years ago, Bobbie Jo Howard from Perryville created a Facebook group called ‘Clear the List’ allowing teachers to post about what they need for their classrooms so people in the community could help out.
“One teacher said she was donating plasma in order to make money to buy those extra things that she wanted for her classroom,” Howard said.
The Facebook group grew quickly. It now has more than 6,000 members across the country. Teachers post their Amazon wish-list links and links to registries at school supply stores.
“Today I approved a list from someone in Portland, Oregon,” she said. “In a day I get over a hundred requests for list.”
Leslie Harden is one of the many teachers benefitting from the Facebook group this year.
“I use a lot of binders and notebooks,” she said. Highlighters are important. These lists just help support that.” Harden said.
Harden is not just any teacher, though.
“Leslie kind of helped raise me,” Howard said.
She was Howard’s school cheerleading coach in Perryville. Howard said, now, she is part of what makes ‘Clear the List’ so rewarding for her as she is able to give back.
“It’s just a small act that I can do to give back to them… to spread the word that they have a need because they’re continuing to touch people’s lives,” Howard continued.
School districts in Arkansas do provide allowances for teachers to get school supplies at the start of every school year. For example, a spokesperson for the Little Rock School District said teachers K-6 get $500 at the start of the year, then secondary school teachers can request any supplies they need.
Howard said ‘Clear the Lists’ are for the needs that go beyond the amount of money they get every year.
“They’re not just teaching our kids, they’re caring for these kids,” she said. “For some kids, that school is their safe place. So, they provide a lot more than the basic need school supplies.”
Howard added the lists are also for additional items that may not be a “need” but something teachers would simply like to have for their classroom to create a better learning environment.