Saturday, September 8, 2012


I'm new at the school where I am teaching and I can't say that I have wanted for supplies, necessarily, but I have had to track some stuff down.  (This is infinitely better than when I was in my last school system, where I inherited a room with a desk, chair, desktop computer and printer, and had to buy my own everything, from the paper to the toner to the dry-erase pens, to the stapler ... it was -- or should have been -- embarrassing for the school and its leadership.)  Here, it's not so much that I don't have stuff as it is that the supply order isn't in, so everyone's sharing 'til it arrives.  It's entirely reasonable and I've not wanted for a darn thing, please don't think I am saying that I've had no supplies.  Still, there are things I could think of that I wanted for my room, but I didn't have the money to go out and buy.  Introduce my new redheaded friend, colleague, team member, and classroom neighbor.  She's a first-year teacher, but NOT new to the Maine system, so she's pretty savvy about the who's and what's that I don't always know about.  She told me about Ruth's Reusable Resources down in Portland, and I went and checked it out today.

It's hard to explain the full story of Ruth's, so I'm going to point you to her page here, but the short version is that the "store" is a warehouse for teachers.  Any grade, any subject.  If you're a teacher and your school and/or system paid for a membership, you "shop" free.  That's it.  Some items have limits, and some are limitless, but you shop.  You get a cart/buggy/carriage/whatever-you-call-it-in-your-part-of-the-country, a clipboard with item group numbers, and everything in the store has a group number and a quantity limit (or if there's no limit, that's noted).  You mark on your clipboard every time you take something, and you "check out" where they match your items to your checklist.  That's it. 

It's an amazing story and all the supplies teachers can "purchase" are donated.  Donated by companies, by retiring teachers, by citizens who want to help out -- it's incredible.  I am not sure there was a thing you could think of that wasn't there, from punched metal circles to bookcases and desks and chairs, pens, pencils, cd players, stamps, batteries, textbooks new and old, crayons, room posters ... you name it!  The only requirement is that you have to be able to take it with you right then.  And it's free.  FREE!

Check out what I was able to get today.  This loot would have easily been close to $400 if I'd purchased it myself.  And it was -- let me say it again -- FREE.

6 atlases, one box or banner paper, a file sorter,...

...two compasses, ten pendaflex hanging file folders, 2 Real Simple journal notebooks, Target brand tape, Post-It flags, two jumpropes, 4 dry erase pens, 2 wite-out rollers, a book of logic puzzles, four boxes of paperclips, 12 spiral notebooks, ten rulers, 2 cans of spray paint, 30 "laminate chips," (one side is red and one green -- how great is that for quick signaling of whether students "get it"?!), 100 sheets of different colors of card stock, 3 sets of page flags, 10 sheets of computer/printer labels, 5 16-packs of Crayola crayons, 100 envelopes, a number line poster with integers, 30 card stock squares ...

an easel-board pad of graph paper, a ream of HP 24# computer paper, 3 6-inch D-ring binders and 3 1.5-inch binders, 10 sheets of poster paper (5 black, 5 white), 2 giant padded envelopes, ...

2 sets of bookends, 1 calendar, ...

2 calculators, one staple remover, 12 small binder clips, 12 medium binder clips, 12 large binder clips, ...

The pile in the living room!

If we move back to Alabama, I am going to be my own Ruth and start a place like this for the school systems of West Alabama.  Ruth's is nothing short of the best place ever, and what a great service to teachers and students -- and to the earth!  So many things that are wanted, needed, and used are kept from trash bins. I'm not overly green, but even I admit that this is brilliant.  (And really, it's how things should be, don'tcha think?) 

Well, okay.  It's not The Container Store.  So maybe it's the second best place ever.



  1. Replies
    1. And I didn't even see the half of it! If we'd had Mick's truck with us, we could have taken home file cabinets, conference tables, bookcases, full-size dry-erase boards ... it was PHENOMENAL. I'm hoping to convince my principal and/or superintendent to join for all of the schools in the district.