How Teachers Prepare for the School Year

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“I would say one of the biggest misconceptions is that teachers always have the summer off. I’ve never had a summer off,” said eighth grade teacher Christine Martin at Crone Middle School.

For Martin, work in her classroom doesn’t end on the last day of school. She stays busy all summer long preparing for her new students in August.

“There have been teachers that do summer school or they take development classes,” said Martin. “They follow a lot of blogs and do a lot of book clubs. So we’re constantly thinking and planning and even if you’re at a bookstore you’re like ‘oh I could use that for my classroom.’ So I feel like we’re always in school even when we’re not in school.”

Hundreds of other educators throughout districts 204 and 203 are doing similar prep work. Take kindergarten teacher Gretchen Dexter for example, who’s been setting up her curriculum and classroom for the past week.

“So in my classroom I decided to do a camping theme, so I just went to Walmart and bought a tent,” said Dexter. “So the great part is Beebe Home and School does help us. So they give us a small stipend so we can purchase what we want for our classroom using the money that they provide us with.”

But a small stipend might not always be enough. Many love to decorate their classroom to create a welcoming learning environment for their students, but sometimes teachers dig into their own pockets to do so.

“The estimate for typical teachers is about $500 a school year,” said Martin. “So that is probably pretty true. We’re also pretty lucky to be in a district that supports us and gives us some money and we have lots of grants.”

District 203 provides an Instructional Resource Center full of teaching materials free of cost to its educators. 203 and 204 also share a printing center to create classroom materials like posters, calendars, and planners.

And those materials can differ quite a bit depending on the grade level. While Martin’s been busy setting up a Starbucks theme and expanding the library in her eighth grade classroom, Dexter’s kindergarten class uses up more paper and art supplies.

“In kindergarten through second grade you do still need crayons, pencils, and all of those supplies that they’re going to use with their hands. So ultimately the cost in kindergarten is going to be more on paper products, which is going to be more expensive,” explained Dexter. “But as they continue to grow like they’re using now more of the Chrome Book, the expense comes more from the district where they’re providing that technological software that they need to continue to grow and flourish.”

Both teachers agree that their passion for what they do is well worth what they invest into their classrooms.

“Making sure that everything is colorful and just a great reminder for students that they feel warm and welcomed,” added Dexter.

The first day of school for District 203 is August 16 and for District 204 is August 21.

If you’re looking to help your local teachers, some of the most request supplies during the school year are tissue boxes and other cleaning products.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.