Back-to-school supplies are seen on sale at the Dollar General on Dayton Boulevard in Red Bank in 2014.

Many classrooms are crowded — full of students, books, supplies and oftentimes posters, signs and other required materials on the walls.

In Hamilton County, teachers post daily learning targets, and in most elementary classrooms, they display sight words or vocabulary words, math equations, reward charts and more.

And then there are the manila file folders, staplers, adult scissors, index cards, masking tape teachers need — supplies they need but don't request from students.

some text School supplies are sorted in bins during the United Way day of caring in 2015 at the Teacher Supply Depot on Roanoke Avenue.

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You can sponsor new teachers in Hamilton County’s public schools as they set up their classrooms this summer by donating any of the following supplies:

Manila file folders

Stapler & staples

3 hole punch

Tape dispenser and tape

Good teacher scissors


Paper clips & binder clips

Copy paper

Masking tape

Expo markers

Expo board cleaner

Post its - lots and all sizes

Pens for teachers

Index cards


Binders (1/2, 1 and/or 2 inch)

Page protectors

Bradded pocket folders




On average, buying classroom supplies can cost teachers about $450 a year, said Erin Kirby with Hamilton County Schools. And many teachers say they spend more than twice that.

For first-year teachers, many of them recent college graduates, setting up their classrooms can be a struggle.

New hires in Hamilton County don't receive their first paychecks until mid-August, according to district officials, which can be a financial burden for those trying to get their classrooms ready for a successful start to the school year.

In an effort to fill the gap this year, Hamilton County's human resources staff has organized a new teacher supply drive.

"Teachers don't all have supply closets to grab pens or paper clips," Kirby said. "Personally, I spent $1,000 on a credit card to get my classroom set up and comfortable for my first year teaching. We are trying to do whatever we can to ease that burden."

During the 2018-19 school year, Hamilton County rolled out a program for new teachers that includes one-to-one mentoring for first-year teachers, a support network and specific training during the year geared toward new teachers. As an induction specialist in this program, Kirby's job is to help support teachers through their first three years in the profession.

The supply drive is one of the ways she hopes to show new teachers they are valued.

Community members are invited to donate items or funding for new teacher supplies. Kirby and her team are still looking for especially popular supplies such as three-hole punches and sticky notes.

For more information on how to help, contact Mallary Netterville at or Erin Kirby at

Contact Meghan Mangrum at or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.