NAPA (KPIX 5) – Napa County public school teachers spend an average $500 to $1,000 a year out of their own pockets for classroom supplies. That’s according to this week’s Jefferson Award winner, a woman who supplies them with some relief.
Kathleen Montgomery offers Napa County public school teachers the supplies they need. The best part? They’re free!
“Some have said it’s like Christmas in August,” Montgomery reported with a smile. “It’s like being in a candy shop.”
Montgomery founded the Teacher Resource Center in Napa for people like Alex Saslow, Napa High School physics instructor.
“If I have an idea, a great idea to explain something to my students, I won’t have to say ‘Can’t do that, I can’t afford to buy a bunch of manila folders for everyone.'” Saslow explained. “Instead, I know they’ll be provided for me.”
Montgomery is a part-time dental hygienist and former teacher herself. She founded the nonprofit in 2010, after noticing a trend among her teacher friends.
“I started to hear comments from them about the increasing amounts of money they were spending out of their pockets as the budgets dwindled during the economic crunch,” Montgomery remembered.
From paper and paint to pencils and pom poms, she collects donated supplies from local businesses and hosts two free shopping days a year for elementary through high school teachers.
Dozens of volunteers, many of them retired instructors, sort countless boxes that pack the center’s 300-square-foot warehouse.
Sherry Vieira has relied on the free shopping days for her science class.
“Just last night, I purchased strawberries, peanuts, pops, lots of things like that,” the Pueblo Vista Elementary teacher said. “A lot of teachers spend a lot of their paycheck. It’s so helpful that we don’t have to rely on picking stuff up on our own.”
In three years, the Teacher Resource Center has hosted more than 1,500 teachers. Each one has left with an average of more than $200 in school supplies.
Volunteer Nancy Fireman says Montgomery guides every part of the nonprofit, from gathering supplies to generating fundraisers.
“It’s in her life constantly. She’s always thinking, always trying new things,” Fireman said.
They often hear from grateful shoppers.
“‘Because I got these things from you I can get my kids some shoes.'” Fireman reported.
“The great part is when they leave with their baskets full and they’re smiling,” added Montgomery.
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