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‘I Am a Scavenger’: The Desperate Things Teachers Do to Get the Classroom Supplies They Need

Like nearly all teachers in America, Becky Cranson spends her own money to buy supplies for her students. Working in a rural school district in Michigan, where 70 percent of her middle school students come from low-income families, she shells out at least $1,000 a year for pencils, books, journals, glue sticks, tissues and much more.

But opening her wallet without reimbursement is only a small part of what she — and many others in America’s corps of 3.2 million teachers — do to secure classroom supplies they can’t get from their schools or from students’ families.

“I am a scavenger,” said Cranson, who teaches English at Bronson Jr./Sr. High School in Bronson, Mich. “My friend who works in the Michigan [Department of Natural Resources] office gives me their used binders, and my husband brings me furniture and supplies that the hospital he works at is throwing away.”