Think about what essential items and supplies you need to do your job.
Think about your computer, the programs you use, specific hardware, specialized tools or anything else you can't go without. Think about how much all of these things cost.
Now, imagine having to purchase all of those things yourself out of pocket, just to do your job.
That's what some teachers all around the nation do every day. On average, more than 95% of teachers reported spending their own money on essential school supplies, according to published reports.
The average teacher in Central Florida reaches into his or her own wallet and spends $500 to $1,500 a year on items for the students. And we're not talking about decorations, pizza parties and fun science experiments. These are basic need supplies, including pencils, paper, crayons and glue.
What does the average Orange County teacher make?
There's a reason people joke about not getting into teaching for the money.
The average K-12 teacher in the Orange County Public Schools system makes $45,000 a year, with some making as low as $38,000, the data shows.
People get into teaching because they want to shape young minds and change the world. They're passionate educators who sacrifice wealth and stability for the greater good of the future.
The sheer lack of funding in public schools forces these same teachers to pay out of pocket so their students can receive the education so vital to their future.
It's also a slippery slope; the lower the income for a school, the less money the board allocates to supplies, causing teachers to spend even more money they don't have to spare.
Elementary teachers have it the worst, as younger students require more supplies to learn, such as crayons, markers, colored pencils and craft supplies. To make matters worse, elementary teachers are also paid the least on average.
So, what can we do about it?
An organization giving back to the community
Depending on the school, teachers may apply for a federal tax deduction of $250 per year. But according to the National Center of Education Statistics, most don't receive anything anywhere near that, saving only $40 or $60 a year.
This leaves the remaining $1,450 up to the teacher to pay themselves.
Fortunately, there are organizations that can help.
A Gift For Teaching is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Central Florida teachers supply their students with the tools they need to succeed.
They have coordinated more than 9,000 foundations, corporations and people to donate, helping 287 Orange County public schools.
Whether you're a teacher and you're furiously nodding your head, knowing how much you wrongfully have to spend on essential supplies, or you're looking to help, visit this website to learn more.
Teachers who meet the criteria can "shop" in the online store for free to stock their classrooms with critical school supplies. Maybe you'll qualify or perhaps you want to get involved with an organization that loves giving back to its community.