ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Teachers made around $52,000 between 2019 and 2020 in Tennessee. Part of that money goes towards buying their own school supplies, filling classrooms with books, pencils, decorations and all kinds of essentials. With rising prices of almost everything, their budgets are stretching thinner.
Shana Readel, a fifth-grade teacher at Claxton Elementary School, said that one of her most important purchases was a $30 vacuum that she got from a couple in North Carolina. She said she plans to incorporate it in lessons throughout the year.
It was a part of a wishlist that she shared online.
"I was just beyond grateful with the love that I received," she said.
She did not want to be the only way who got support from a community of people. So, she created a group on Facebook where teachers across East Tennessee could share wishlists and speak about the items they needed for the upcoming school year.
She said it helped teachers stay afloat as prices rose for almost everything.
"I feel like there are so many people that want to bless teachers and educators, and there are things like gas and school supplies and food that are rising with costs," she said. "I really enjoyed paying it forward."
Readel said she created the group on Tuesday, and after a single day it ballooned to more than 120 members. She said not all members are active teachers, too. Some are retired educators, and a few businesses have asked to join the group to help teachers. Some are just average people who wanted to help teachers afford classroom supplies.
She said the group helped get supplies for around 60 teachers so far.
"It's just really exciting to see local educators in East Tennessee receive this support," she said.