BALTIMORE — Filling a classroom to guide our young people can take a toll on the wallets of our teachers. The Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap has helped lighten the load for the past five years.
It will be open on Saturday, but its future is in jeopardy.
“We’re running out of money, we just really don’t have money,” said Alessa Giampaolo Keener. “Trying to find the funding has been very difficult because we have more of an indirect impact with the work that we do and funders want to see more of a precise direct impact.”
Giampaolo Keener is on the board for the non-profit.
When you walk in you can see the potential stacked on the shelves.
“I love kind of the serendipitous nature of you never knew what you might find,” said educator Patty Berry. “Like, oh I didn’t even know I wanted this and here it is.”
The non-profit was built by a teacher for teachers.
Its founder decided to step down after helping to get over $700,000 worth of materials into classrooms all over the Baltimore area.
Small things like chalk and highlighters can add up quickly.
Teachers have to pay out of pocket for almost everything in their classroom, and it’s estimated that they spend about $600 a year to fill their classrooms.
“Teachers aren’t given the funds or resources to do things like creating bulletin boards where they can display student work,” said Giampaolo Keener. “That instills pride in being able to achieve a good grade on a spelling test or having mastered their multiplication tables.”
When word spread about the closing-- the support started pouring in, and now the board of directors is searching for ways to stay open.
“It’s given us the chance to say wait a second maybe there is a way that we can look for different types of community partnerships that we haven’t actually considered already,” Giampaolo Keener said.
Robert Tyree is a first-time teacher at North Bend Elementary.
He was picking up a haul of supplies for his room, and he said that it’s a great place for teachers to come and share their passion for their craft.
“You find individuals that are in the same grade level,” he said. “Small conversations that can lead to lifetime friendships. I see my fellow colleagues all the time in here.”
A profession that takes passion but often lacks financial support, possibly losing a room of ideas and inspiration that's spread to schools all over the area.
They are expected to officially close their doors November 30.