Project Teacher, a Wichita nonprofit group that provides free school supplies to teachers, is hitting the road in an effort to get supplies to more classrooms.
A van donated by Rusty Eck Ford and filled with Post-It notes, tape dispensers, scissors and other supplies began visiting schools in Wichita and surrounding areas Tuesday.
“We were wondering, ‘What can we do to help teachers out even more?’ And we thought, ‘What if we did like a food truck thing, and we take the supplies to them?’ ” said Terry Johnson, director of Project Teacher.
“We figured, if we could go out to the schools and not necessarily ask the teachers to come to us, we’d be able to get more supplies to more kids in need.”
The black and yellow Ford Transit van, decorated with the Project Teacher logo on the sides, made its first stop at College Hill Elementary School on Tuesday before traveling to Price-Harris Elementary, Ortiz Elementary and other schools in Wichita, Derby and surrounding areas.
Rusty Eck Ford officials also distributed $60,000 to teachers as part of the dealership’s Adopt-a-School program.
Project Teacher, an initiative of GracePoint Church that launched in 2014, has distributed more than $1 million worth of free supplies to area teachers.
This year, a change to the school calendar means teachers are at school 30 minutes longer each day. Johnson said he hopes the new mobile store will save time by taking supplies out to teachers during lunch hours or inservice days instead of requiring them to travel to the west Wichita church to shop for items.
“This will help us go a little bit further,” he said. “We want to make it as easy as possible for teachers to get these supplies into their classrooms.”
Studies show that the average teacher spends more than $500 a year of his or her own money on classroom supplies – things like books, posters, games and organizational tools as well as paper, pencils, snacks and other basics to supplement what students bring (or don’t bring) to school. For new teachers, the initial investment can be much higher.
How to help
Project Teacher operates a volunteer-run store for teachers that is stocked with classroom supplies donated by national sponsors and the community. The group needs monetary donations to pay freight costs for donated supplies. For information about how and what to donate, visit ProjectTeacher.org and click on “Donate.”
Wichita-area teachers seeking supplies are asked to register on the group’s website. Eligible teachers can shop two times a year; new and second-year teachers can shop four times a year. For more information, go to the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/projectteacher.