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Pullman Elementary Teachers to Split $1K to Buy School Supplies at Walmart

By Wendell Hutson | July 28, 2014 6:14pm
 Walmart donated a $1,000 gift card July 28, 2014 to Pullman Elementary School on the South Side.
School Supply Giveaway
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PULLMAN — Renee Williams, who teaches reading at Pullman Elementary School, said she spends about $1,000 of her own money every year to buy school supplies for her students.

"Pencils are the biggest school supply I have every year," Williams said. "School budgets get tighter every year and that makes it harder for schools to buy supplies."

Williams and other teachers at her school might be able to spend a little less of their own money this year thanks to Walmart, which donated a $1,000 gift card Monday to the South Side school, 11311 S. Forrestville Ave. The donation comes during Walmart's Teacher Appreciation Week, which ends Thursday.

The Pullman school was chosen for the donation in part because of the 2013 opening of a Walmart store nearby, said Erica Jones, a Walmart spokeswoman. She said Pullman is the only CPS school expected to get a gift card donation this year.

The donation will be split among the 15 teachers at the school, which serves 250 students.

Pullman school does not have a set budget for supplies, which is why Principal Julious Lawson said he plans to discuss with teachers how best to use the gift card.

"We are always short on supplies, which is why I plan to seek input from teachers on how best to utilize this donation," Lawson said. "As a former teacher myself, I have been challenged with buying supplies and have found parents to be a big resource to teachers."

Pamela Randle, a technology teacher at Pullman, said a lack of supplies could hinder a teacher's ability to better serve their students.

"If you have the supplies, you need you can provide a better structural environment for your students," Randle said. "I spend between $200 to $300 a year on supplies [out of my own pocket], and supplies for a technology class, like flash drives, are expensive."

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, teachers can be reimbursed up to $250 for supplies by the district.

Still, Williams said a lack of school supplies should not keep a teacher from doing their job.

"When you are a teacher, you have to be creative sometimes when it comes to school supplies," she said. " ... But with or without the supplies we'll make it."

Supplies for the school will be purchased at the Walmart store in Pullman, where Darryl Bowers is the manager. He was joined at the school by Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, for a surprise presentation to Lawson and teachers.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is a big supporter of education, said Walmart officials, who added it donated more than $20 million to U.S. educators in the last five years.

"On average, teachers around the country spend about $1,000 readying their classrooms, and half of that comes from reaching into their own wallets," said Steve Bratspies, vice president of general merchandise for Wal-mart Stores Inc. "This program is one more way we're helping lessen the cost, increase support and set teachers up for success."

Any teacher who shops at Walmart during Teacher Appreciation Week becomes eligible to receive a Walmart gift card for 10 percent back on school supplies.

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