Free 2 Teach provides free resources to teachers in Madison County’s three public school systems. These resources are available to more than 3,800 full-time classroom teachers and their 52,000 students, improving the educational experience of our children and strengthening our community’s future workforce.
Two friends, one a retired school teacher, were volunteering at a holiday gift drive when they noticed a collection bin full of school supplies. These friends began discussing how wonderful it would be for teachers to have access to supplies like these for their own classrooms and students. It was December 2009, and the seed for Free 2 Teach was planted.
Free 2 Teach Executive Director, Eula Battle, was the retired teacher working at that holiday gift drive. She knew all too well the dilemma that many teachers are in, spending more and more money out of their own pockets to compensate for the dwindling funds allocated from the state’s budget for classroom supplies.
To address this growing problem, surplus and out-of-date supplies were collected from local businesses, including old letterhead, envelopes, binders and more. Initially, the supplies were stored in Eula’s garage. Today, a brick and mortar Free 2 Teach Store operates from a 10,000 square foot combined retail and warehouse space, providing free supplies to all full-time classroom teachers in Madison County’s three public school systems: Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County.
Students need supplies to learn. Teachers need tools to teach. Our community needs young people to drive our future. Free 2 Teach is the connection point for these needs. We connect our teachers with a multitude of resources including traditional school supplies, office supplies, furniture, room décor, craft items, books, math and science resources, even re-usable 3-D biology models available through our STEM Lending Library.
Free 2 Teach is committed to easing the personal financial burden of teachers. Did you know that teachers spend between five-hundred and fifteen-hundred dollars of their own money every year to buy supplies for their students and classrooms?
Each teacher who shops at the Free 2 Teach store leaves with an average of $475 in free classroom resources. The supplies teachers receive directly benefit students in two ways, 1) enhanced classroom instruction – benefiting all students and 2) teachers are able to put school supplies directly into the hands of the underserved students in their classrooms.
We are grateful to be able to give back to our community’s teachers in a very tangible way. We applaud their passion for doing this important work and look forward to supporting them as they continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our students and our community.
“As a former teacher I know how important it is for a teacher to feel valued and encouraged by their community. We hope to add a little joy and happiness to each teacher’s day when they shop at Free 2 Teach.” Eula Battle, Executive Director, Free 2 Teach.
We will never forget the very first teacher who shopped at the Store, Charlene Crawford, from Morris Elementary School. As she was checking out with her buggy full of supplies, the volunteer gave her the total of how much she had saved by shopping for free supplies at Free 2 Teach. With gratitude, Charlene confided, “I’m so grateful to Free 2 Teach, because I have a newborn and by the time I pay for daycare, diapers and formula, there is no extra money for my classroom.”
Since Charlene first came through our doors in January 2013, we have hosted 5,924 teacher visits at the Free 2 Teach store. Since that first day, we have been privileged to give away over $2.6 million worth of free resources to our teachers, their students and their classrooms!
But we haven’t done this alone. This remarkable achievement is only possible because of contributions from local businesses, the generosity of community foundations and civic organizations, and the gifts of individual donors. Through countless supply donations and supply drives, and the gift of time from our many volunteers, Free 2 Teach is able to achieve the unimaginable. In just a few short years Free 2 Teach has gone from collecting and storing unused and excess supplies in Eula’s garage to giving away over $2.6 million of free resources to our teachers!
We thank you for your generosity, encouragement and commitment. Our story hasn’t ended. We are still at the beginning, perhaps, even yet in the first chapter! We look forward to continuing our story and serving our teachers, students and community for many years to come.