As the 2019-2020 school year approaches, teachers across the Carolinas have already started preparing their classroom activities and assignments. Some teachers are already dipping into their own pockets to pay for school supplies for their students who don’t have the financial resources that their fellow students have.
One of those teachers is 2019 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year Kim Tuttle.
For the past two decades, Tuttle has been doing what she feels called to do.
“I wouldn’t say that teaching is a job. It’s a passion,” Tuttle said. “Because they say when you find a profession that you love, you never work another day in your life.”
Her love for teaching came from her mother who taught elementary school of over 32 years. She would help her mom grade papers from her first grade class and wanted to share her mothers joy and passion for educating.
While families prepare for another school year, most students in CMS and surrounding counties are given a list of school supplies that they will need for the first day. Items can range from pencils to paper to calculators that can cost more than a hundred dollars.
“I have seen students who feel dejected when they go into class, and they see that they don’t have the resources that other people have,” Tuttle said. “They feel dejected. They feel embarrassed.”
Every school year, area teachers spend $500 to $1,000 of their own money on basic school supplies for their students.
Tuttle and thousands of other teachers rely on support from the community to fill in the gap for students whose families can’t afford school supplies.
“This is where the community is definitely going to be our right hands and help us provide the basic structure and need,” she said. “When our students are provided with the basic needs, their learning is going to far excel what we expect because they’re confident.”
For more than 20 years, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed to students in grades K-12. These items play a big role in preparing students to be successful in the upcoming school year.
“A program like this is important because it lets teachers like myself know the community cares,” Tuttle said.
For many families, the needs of the home sometime outweigh the need at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for the evening dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense many families can’t afford.
“As a teacher you understand the lack of opportunity that comes with financial struggle,” Tuttle said. “It is why we have programs like (9 School Tools) that we’re able to provide for those students who are in need. Therefore, their mother and father and grandmother can take care of the home situation.”
The hope for this coming year, is that every student in every class can succeed without any barriers.
“Education is the one gift, that one blessing, that is a resource in which it is going to end poverty,” Tuttle said. “When you take away those barriers in education for our students, they can soar.”
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