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Teacher resorts to crowdsourcing to make sure classroom is fully stocked

Lauren Stearns, a first-grade teacher at Wakefield Elementary in Little Rock, has taken to online-fundraising to make sure she has the money to keep her classroom stocked with supplies. (Photo: KATV)

With the start of the school year just weeks away, a Little Rock elementary school teacher has taken to online fundraising to help ease the burn on her own wallet when it comes to making sure her students have everything they need for class.

Lauren Stearns, a first grade teacher at Wakefield Elementary School, has taught at the southwest Little Rock school for the last four years. The majority of students at Wakefield - 98% of them - qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to Stearns.

"You don't want them to miss out on anything," said Stearns. "So we do kind of feel an obligation to make sure that we are there for that student when resources may not be there."

Arkansas state law requires school districts to reimburse teachers up to $20 per student, up to $500, on purchases teachers personally make for their students. Stearns said the district's reimbursement money is certainly helpful, but said during her first year of teaching she spent $2,000 of her own money to make sure her students had the basic necessities, in addition to engaging activities, games and books to help enhance their learning experience.

It's why Stearns created a GoFundMe campaign - "Lauren's Classroom Fund" - to help her in ensuring her students will have ample supplies.

"As a single woman, it makes it hard on one income - you have to kind of get creative to get those means," commented Stearns.

Michael Poore, superintendent for the Little Rock School District, acknowledged that teachers are often reaching into their own pockets to make sure students get what the quality education they deserve. At the same rate, Poore was sure to mention the district's Bright Futures initiative - a program that utilizes Facebook to get in touch with potential donors and notify them about the potential needs of families that may not be able to provide everything their child needs for school.

"This began last year," said Poore of the Bright Futures program. "It's still kind of in its infancy stages. We hope that'll have a bigger impact in terms of supporting both teachers and students in this coming year."

For more information on LRSD's Bright Futures program, you can click here.


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