Eye on KELOLAND: First year teachers face financial challenges

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Usually the Sioux Falls School District averages around 140 new teachers in a school year. This year there are 219 new teachers.

For many of them, this is their first teaching job and those first few days in the classroom can be a lot of pressure.

“When we finish 10 and 11, we are silent reading,” Sydney Peterson said.

Sydney Peterson grew up in Sturgis and graduated from SDSU with a degree in elementary education. Now she’s in her first classroom, with her first kids, in her first school. She became a teacher because of an experience observing a special ed class during her senior year in high school.

“This kid could never get answers right to anything, it was really hard for him to remember numbers, remember shapes, and so one day we were asking questions and we held up a number and, what is this number and it just clicked in his head and he said 5, and we all were like oh my gosh he got it right and it was just the most exciting moment and I knew that I wanted to have that every year, so that is why I became a teacher,” said Peterson.

The first days in class have been exciting, busy, and expensive.

“Most people don’t know that we do have to pay for most of the stuff in our classroom.”

An article published by the National Education Association says teachers “on average” spend around $460 a year of their own money for their classroom. From shelves to posters to art supplies, teachers foot the bill.

That’s where the Sioux Falls Education Foundation comes in. The non-profit was formed in 2008 and has several programs to help teachers and students. One of them gives 200 dollar grants to first time teachers.

“This is just one way to support them and say we see you, we appreciate what you are doing, here is some seed money to get them up an going and it gives them opportunity to buy some of those fun things,” said Allison Struck, the Executive Director of the Education Foundation.

Peterson was one of 79 teachers to get a 200 dollar grant this year so far.

“Just the fact that someone is willing to help us is so awesome because I bought all of this background that I have on my boards here I bought book bins, book shelves, it goes a long ways.”

Cleveland Elementary Principal Stacy Stefani has 2 new teachers this year including Peterson.

“I think it is amazing the teachers some of them they come to our district and they get hired and they don’t even know that it exists so for them to find out that the education foundation will give all new teachers 200 dollars for their classroom they are like oh my god this is going to help so much,” Sfeani said.

Peterson says her first few days in the classroom have been great, but knowing she had some money to spend on her first kids, was special. It doesn’t cover all of the costs, but just knowing someone cares is just as valuable.

“Let’s stop what we are doing and line up in order please, we got to go out to recess.”

If you would like to help teachers, you can donate to the Education Foundation. You can ask them to ear mark your donation to first-year teachers.

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