A survey by Scholastic, an educational publishing company, reports principals and teachers personally pay far more than the $250 tax deductible allowance for classroom supplies and resources each year. While the amount spent varies by grade level and economic status of the school, surveys from various sources report that over 95 percent of educators spend their own money, even if it means personal sacrifice, to supplement their classrooms. These figures are astounding and rising each year. 

Students deserve to have the appropriate materials with which to learn available to them in the classroom, but not at the teacher’s expense. There are organizations that help. NAEIR helps teachers by providing free and best prices on classroom materials. Donors Chooseoffers donors an opportunity to help a classroom in need. Teachers submit classroom project requests, and donors can give any amount to the project. Adopt A Classroom offers funding for teachers and schools through a proprietary fundraising platform. Donors then adopt a classroom. Digital Wish develops online tools and promotions to support teachers in getting technology for their classrooms and enhance learning for their students. Many schools have educational foundations that offer small classroom grants for specific projects, but teachers must complete an application and be approved in most cases. And there are far fewer resources for preschool and homeschool educators.

A relatively new organization, Vooks, understands that all teachers and educators make many sacrifices to do their jobs. To show their appreciation and support, Vooks is giving all educators a gift that gives their children immediate access to books. As a literacy expert, I know motivating students to read can be a challenge, but this online streaming library allows children to experience award-winning and trusted books in a new and exciting way. The first of its kind, Vooks brings books to life with animations that stay true to the original illustrations. Words are highlighted as a narrator reads with expression and fluency. Teachers can use the literacy tool as read alouds, as interactive read alouds, as partner reads and as fluency reads – the possibilities are endless. And I love that Vooks has been very intentional about the storybooks they have curated on the platform, focusing on stories that develop social and emotional skills like kindness, friendship and bravery, and they are adding categories all of the time.

Now through September 15, 2019, all educators can receive a free one-year subscription to Vooks. As an additional way to show support, Vooks created a Teacher Community Facebook Group where educators have access to a community of like-minded teachers with a passion for literacy. Members share advice, resources and stories of students using and loving Vooks. Community members will also have access to exclusive Vooks’ content and even help decide what new titles go on the platform! 

Show your child’s hero some love and share these resources to make the back-to-school season a little easier on everyone!


  • Patricia Duncan

    Education Specialist


    Patricia Duncan has a passion for helping people reach their potential through education and training. Her areas of expertise include literacy, math, assessment, professional development, curriculum evaluation, design and delivery, differentiation, learning styles, and coaching. Patty has successful experience teaching preK- graduate students as well as diverse populations in special needs including brain injured, learning disabled, mentally and physically challenged, and gifted students at all age/education levels. She is experienced in both classroom and online delivery. Her expertise and passion for education make her a popular presenter at local, regional, state and national conferences. Her results driven coaching is in continuous demand in school districts nationally. She has earned a BA in mathematics and English from Buena Vista University; an MSS in Education from The University of South Dakota; an MA in English from The University of South Dakota; and an MBA from Kaplan University. She continues to learn through attending seminars and workshops as well as continuous networking with the top researchers in education. She maintains a permanent professional teaching certificate in Iowa 7-12 in Mathematics, English, Psychology, Sociology, and K-12 in Talented and Gifted as well as certifications in other states in the areas of English, mathematics, and psychology.