Inspired to teach, but barriers hinder progress

“We assume that teachers are super human and can do and have all of these things, but we never really ask where these things are coming from,” said Jarrin Wooten, kindergarten teacher at Sugar Creek Charter School.

The impact Wooten’s teachers had on him throughout his youth has had a lasting impression on him and was the force that drove him to become an educator.

“I’m one of those people that was heavily influenced by my teachers,” said Wooten. “They’ve always made it seem so profound and such a desirable thing to do, and I know the lasting impact they had personally on my life.”

While Wooten is excited about entering his fifth year of teaching, he is not looking forward to seeing many of his students return to school empty-handed.

At least 80 percent of his students come to class without the supplies needed to learn.

“I have a lot of students whose parents work third shift, don’t have a job or are unemployed,” said Wooten. “A lot of times, they are lacking just those simple things that make a big difference.”

Those simple things that are required on most school supply lists range from a pencil to a backpack.

“A lot of our children don’t even have backpacks, or they’ll have a backpack that will have two broken straps and they just kind of carry it around,” said Wooten.

Wooten is often left to purchase school supply items to make up for the lack of resources, or to rely on school supply donations.

Every school year, area teachers spend $500 to $1,000 of their own money on basic school supplies for their students. Wooten, along with other educators at over 190 Title I schools, utilizes the Classroom Central free-store throughout the academic year. Classroom Central is a nonprofit that collects and distributes free school supplies to students living in poverty.

“It just takes that stress off of an already strenuous and physically and mentally demanding job,” said Wooten. “It takes away thinking about where I am going to get these things versus now I can think about how to utilize them and how I can be most effective with these things in my classroom.”

For the past 20 years, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 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.

“Everything is utilized, and everything is implemented for the betterment of what we are trying to do at the end of the day – educate children,” said Wooten.

Learn more about 9 School Tools at

If your organization or business would like to get involved or help with 9 School Tools, or if you have an inspiring story to share, please email Kevin Campbell, community affairs manager for WSOC-TV, at