Teacher resource center operational
The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools unveiled a new and improved Teacher Resource Center on Friday afternoon.
With school and private budgets both tight this year, the foundation pooled its donations in one center where teachers can periodically visit and take whatever supplies they need.
Lining the walls of the new resource center, located at the foundation office on 2266 Second Street, are pens, pencils, loose-leaf paper, reference books and more.
Sixty-percent of students in Lee County qualify for free or reduced lunch and Executive Director Marshall Bower said the center will be a big help for teachers and the community.
“The thing we are trying to get out is that it will be a rough year, so please donate,” he said.
Many teachers have already sifted through piles of supplies. Bower said that two weeks earlier the shelves of the center were packed full, and now they lay nearly bare.
This isn’t the first time Lee County had a Teacher Resource Center. The old supply hub was located in a warehouse on Central Avenue, but not many teachers visited, he said.
“It’s been open for many years,” said Bower. “We waned to make it more inviting, like a store front.”
Suncoast School Federal Credit Union, a major donor to the foundation, not only donated supplies and capital to purchase additional supplies, but it also donated the funds to renovate an old room at the foundation into the new teacher center.
Program Manager Beverly Burke said at the center’s last opening it hosted 150 teachers. Depending on how many donations the foundation receives, Burke said the foundation wants it open at least twice a week for teachers.
Christine Thomas, a behavioral specialist at Villas Elementary, was one of the teachers getting supplies from the center on Friday.
“I come frequently, it is wonderful,” she said. “There is some cool stuff we can take back to our classrooms.”
Because Thomas works with children diagnosed with autism, she often picks up unique supplies at the teachers center that benefit the learning styles of her students. She added that other teachers know it.
“A lot of people take advantage of it,” she said.
Now the new mission of the foundation for today and in the future is to keep the center packed with supplies, said Bower.