New teacher Cari Hegyi not only thinks about teaching her sixth-grade science students. She is also concerned about their environment.
"I noticed how the bulletin boards were empty, so I went and bought fabric and covered them," Hegyi said.
Hegyi also bought pencils, pens and notebooks for students whose parents cannot afford them. So far, she has spent around $150, and that is before school even starts.
Veteran teacher Linda Alexander spends hundreds of dollars each year. That is on top of the roughly $350 she and Hegyi will get from the school throughout the year.
"Rewards and incentives -- that's where I do spend most of my money," Alexander said.
According to a 2004 study from the National School Supply and Equipment Association, teachers nationwide spent an average of $458 of their own money on school supplies.
Alexander spent her own money on a popcorn popper that she hopes will help her students in science class.
"I said that's great for teaching conduction, convection and radiation, and I just had to have it for my classroom. I won't be reimbursed for it," Alexander said.
For teachers like Hegyi, the students matter more than the cost.
"I'm going to spend and if it takes me five years to get out of debt for it, so be it. This is the profession I chose, so that's what I have to do," she said.
If you would like to lighten the load on teachers by donating supplies for students who cannot afford them, check out WRAL's
School Stuff For The Children Campaign
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