Before the EVSC Foundation and the Public Education Foundation merged in November 2021, they brainstormed joint projects and landed on a supplies shop for educators modeled after Teacher Warehouse in Bloomington, Indiana, and Teacher’s Treasures in Indianapolis. At the same time, the Area Council PTA had just turned over its Hangers clothing supply for students to the EVSC Foundation and was looking for a new project involving classroom supplies. The two foundations and PTA joined forces with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., Evansville Teacher’s Association, and the Evansville Retired Teachers Association, and in 2019, Teacher Locker was born.
“There was a lot of interest from the EVSC Foundation and the Public Education Foundation to do something specifically for teachers,” says EVSC Foundation president Elisabet Sena-Martin. “It was an idea of some of these different groups and former teachers that became a project, and then the partnership brought it to life.”
Housed at the Academy of Innovative Studies campus at 2319 Stringtown Road, Teacher Locker is a one-stop shop for school supplies for EVSC classrooms. Shelves are stocked with basic school and office supplies, from desktop items, art supplies, and teaching implements to decor, games, and all kinds of paper. EVSC educators sign up for shopping appointments and have a credit of 50 points (equivalent to $150-$300) that they can use each visit. Right now, they can shop once a school year. Teacher Locker also has a room just for books, of which teachers can choose as many as they want for free.
“It sparks the imagination in terms of classroom projects. Say you’re planning an activity and you wish you had 200 pieces of such-and-such. You can go to Teacher Locker,” Sena-Martin says.
Teacher Locker is driven by volunteers and mostly donated goods. Volunteers pick up and deliver donations, stock shelves and take inventory, clean and maintain the shop, and help teachers with their shopping requests. Board members can acquire cheaper prices on some supplies by buying them in bulk.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, Teacher Locker served 500 teachers and gave away more than $60,000 in supplies. The partnership’s success earned it Leadership Everyone’s 2021 Celebration of Leadership award for Project or Program – Education, but the collaboration doesn’t begin and end with educators. Donations come from community members and business leaders who can shop the online wish list, donate excess office supplies, provide financial assistance, or volunteer their time.
“This is an ongoing project,” Sena-Martin says. “There are a lot of opportunities to continue growing our impact.”