Advantage News: New Group to Fulfill Need for School Supplies

Now that school is back in session and school supply drives for students are over, teachers in Title 1 schools are taking inventory of the supplies their students were unable to afford and purchasing them for their classrooms.  

Title 1 schools are classified as schools where 50 percent or more of students are eligible for free lunches. On average, a teacher in a Title 1 school pays $750 to $1,000 for school supplies their students are unable to provide for themselves.  

Judge Sarah Smith, an associate judge of Madison County’s Third Judicial Circuit, was determined to find a way to fill that need.  “Last spring when my son came home from first grade, he had a lot of unused school supplies from the prior school year,” Smith said. “I realized there were likely many other students coming home with excess supplies and rather than throw these away, I wanted to find a way where they could be reused.”   

Smith reached out to Dr. Danielle Harris, a friend and former principal of a Title 1 school, and they developed a program called Education Upcycle.

Last spring, schools from the Edwardsville and Troy school districts placed bins for parents and teachers to discard gently used or unused school supplies. Organizations such as the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s Office and the Madison County Sheriff’s Department also held school supply drives specifically for the Education Upcycle program.

“A lot of organizations have school supply drives for students, and I think that is a wonderful thing, but often times teachers in Title 1 schools are left to fill any gaps out of their own pockets,” Alton High School Assistant Principal Dorothy Mosby said. “Our teachers said it felt like Christmas and they were thrilled to have so many supplies available to choose from for their classrooms.”

“This year, our goal was to fill the need of one school,” Smith said. “Because of the generosity of our community and the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s Office, we were able to reach two different schools. It is my hope that this program grows and we are able to one day fill the need throughout all of Madison County.” 

Education Upcycle dropped off the first load of supplies to Alton High School teachers on Aug. 30. A second event is scheduled for the Bethalto School District this week.  

For more information or to donate to Education Upcycle, contact Kelly Tracy at (618) 520-8919.

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