ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- Kids are returning to the classroom sooner than you think. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul Public schools start in three weeks. Teachers in those districts, as well as metro and state-wide, are hoping you can help them get ready for the year by "clearing their wish lists."
Clearing these lists not only improves the learning environment but saves teachers thousands of dollars from their own pockets.
Kristin Vaillancourt is a third-generation teacher working with elementary-aged special education students in the St. Louis Public School District. She has an Amazon wish list, along with nearly 400 other Minnesota teachers.
"I know how much time and effort and money my mom and grandma spent on their classrooms over the years," said Vaillancourt, "to have other people to be able to so easily donate their resources to support my classroom is amazing. It's a game changer."
"Clear the List" is an effort teachers have been doing in recent years. They create Amazon wish lists of supplies that will enhance the learning environment in the classroom. Then they share the links on social media and ask for donations and support.
As a special education teacher, Vaillancourt says the supplies she needs are things you might not think of.
"I was able to get some yoga mats for my kids, which was great because my kids they were tired of sitting in a chair all day," said Vaillancourt. She says having floor time helps create a calming environment for her students so they learn better.
A brightly decorated classroom seems like a given. It's something students expect, but those decorations are all thanks to the teacher, not the district. It can be pretty costly out of pocket for them as well.
"In the past, I've probably spent anywhere from $1,000-3,000 out of pocket on school things," said Selena Kibira teaches special education and children with autism through Minneapolis Public Schools.
With school only three weeks out, Kibira says nothing has been cleared from her wish list yet.
"Everyone knows that education is underfunded and now that I'm working in it, I really see it first hand," said Kibira.
Again, there are nearly 400 Minnesota teachers with "wish lists" on Amazon right now. Here is a database link, organized by state, where you can access all of them and help out if you'd like.
Most teachers keep these lists open well past the first day of school.
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