July 26, 2006 Albany -- School's back in session for teachers in Dougherty County. They're busy preparing classrooms and lesson plans for the students return next Wednesday. This year, they'll have a little extra help with those school supplies.
For seven years, Tesharra Stephens taught Language Arts at Merry Acres Middle School. Always seventh graders, always in the same classroom, and always spending some of her own money to purchase supplies.
"You get the basics, and then all the little cutesy stuff, the extras, you normally have to purchase," Stephens said.
But for those extras this year, she'll have a little extra help from the state. Principal Larry Worthy says, "The teacher is going to have $100 that they've never had before."
$100 to spend on anything classroom related. "All of our teachers spend their own money, and they still will, but what this card's going to do, it's going to give them the opportunity to get some things that maybe they wouldn't have been able to get with their own money and $100 will go a good way if you spend it wisely," says Worthy.
Stephens says the extra cash will do more than ease her expenses, it will also help students. "I've gone to conferences where I've purchased CRCT material books. I've purchased that if I thought it was good. You don't think, 'well, can the school do this for me?' You go ahead and purchase it, because you need it."
And the kids need it. That's why, even if Mrs. Stephens does dip into her own funds this year, she says, it's well worth it, but the extra money doesn't hurt.
The gift cards are provided by the state and can only be used on classroom expenses and only during the state's tax free holiday, August 3rd-6th. Some retailers are partnering with the state to offer special discounts for teachers.