Back-to-school time means spending money for parents and caregivers, but also for teachers, too. In fact, nearly every teacher spends their own money outfitting their classroom with much-needed educational supplies and other classroom needs, such as tissues.
Michelle Lindsey, who has taught for 13 years, used to be one of those teachers — that is, until her sorority sisters stepped in and bought her every item on her classroom wish list.
Lindsey teaches home economics at Lakewood High School in Salemburg, North Carolina. Many of her students cannot afford to get the supplies required for her class, so she put out a post on Facebook to her Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters asking for help in filling the gaps. Almost immediately, her sisters sprang to action.
Lindsey joined Delta Sigma Theta only a year ago, looking for friendship. The national service sorority is a philanthropic organization founded in 1913 by 22 women at Howard University in Washington, D.C., which primarily focuses on the black community. It counts the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in the United Stages Congress, among its members.
Lindsey’s sisters were eager to help her fill her Amazon Wish List, and then some.
“As soon as I hit send I had to turn my phone on silent because of the notifications coming in,” Lindsey told “Good Morning America” in an interview. “It was all sisters asking, ‘What can I do?'”
Lindsey now has 100 boxes of school supplies to bring to her classroom, full of notebooks, glue sticks, folders, highlighters and more. At a school where only pencils and tape are provided, having a fully stocked classroom makes all the difference.
“We are in a very poor district,” Lindsey told “Good Morning America.” “We do a supply list online and ask the kids to get them. Out of a class of 20, I might have nine that can get their school supplies. It’s either you do your class based upon kids maybe having supplies or not having supplies or you just make sure that they have them.”
According to a 2018 article from USA Today, the vast majority of teachers reported paying nearly $500 out-of-pocket for their own school supplies, according to a study by the National Center of Education Statistics. Ninety-four percent of public school teachers surveyed said they spent an average of $479 on items such as notebooks, pens and other classroom supplies without reimbursement.
Lindsey’s first homework assignment? A handwritten thank you note to each of the women who helped her fill her classroom this year.