Suffolk offers teacher supply store

Published 9:06 pm Monday, August 27, 2018

Teachers in Suffolk had the opportunity to get some shopping done Monday afternoon, but rather than head to Target, the teachers picked items off shelves at Driver Elementary School.

Suffolk Public Schools partnered with the Suffolk Education Foundation to bring the vision of the Teacher Supply Store to life, and now teachers have the opportunity, once a month, to go shopping for free items for their classroom.

“Having been a principal, it is wonderful to provide teachers with supplies that they would normally purchase with their own money,” said SEF board member Karen Brickey. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to help teachers. We do classroom grants and student scholarships, and this is just one other measure to help.”

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At least 94 percent of teachers spend their own money, most at least $400, to provide supplies for their classrooms every year, according to a press release from Suffolk Public Schools.

“It’s nice to have people notice and help to take the weight off of our shoulders,” said Nansemond Parkway Elementary teacher Tamara Yohe.

Yohe is starting her 19th year at Nansemond Parkway, and most of what she spends on her class goes towards paper, pencils and erasers. The Teacher Supply Store features plenty of options for supplies.

“I’m excited, and I can’t believe it,” said Nansemond Parkway Elementary teacher Debra Harris.

Harris has also been at Nansemond Parkway for almost two decades.

While Suffolk Public Schools already provides a $100 voucher to each teacher to purchase supplies each year, they are constantly working towards providing more support for their educators.

“Teachers give their time, talent and treasures, and this is an opportunity to provide even more,” said Assistant Superintendent LaToya Harrison. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure the students and teachers have what they need to succeed.”

The Teacher Supply Store is broken down into three rooms for the teachers, a free room, a book room and a paid room, and Suffolk’s teachers have the chance once a month to go shopping.

The free room is filled with gently used donated items for teachers. The room has folders, paper, educational books and other supplies. During the shopping period, teachers can have five items a month from the room.

The room of free supplies was filled with plenty of items donated from the Virginia Department of Transportation. They donated office supplies including binders, supplies, staplers and clipboards after moving to their new offices in North Suffolk.

The book room is full of donated, gently used books, and teachers have the opportunity to begin building or adding to their classroom collections.

Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education donated approximately 1,000 new and gently used children’s and young adult books at a variety of reading levels. The retail value of these books is estimated at $15,000, according to the release.

The last room allows teachers to “buy” brand new office supplies and other classroom items once a month. Teachers will receive 20 points a month to use in the store.

The store will be open from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, and teachers can come visit once a month.

While the Suffolk Education Foundation will help with the store, Suffolk Public Schools hopes the community will help add to the store’s inventory and help volunteer during store hours.

They are looking for specific items like binders, colored pencils, composition books, sticky notes, tissues and Ziploc bags. A more comprehensive list is on the division’s website at

Those that want to donate or volunteer should contact Bethanne Bradshaw, the division’s spokeswoman, at 925-6752 or