Laura Jacobson has a vivid memory of the teachers’ supply closet at PS 188 in Coney Island, Brooklyn, where her mother, Evelyn Jacobson, taught for most of her career.
“It was filled with paper, glue, cray-ons and scissors,” said Jacobson, 72, who attended the school as a child. “And it was always stocked.”
When the city stopped providing adequate supplies, her mother and other teachers started digging into their own pockets to give their students the basics. Jacobson read that many teachers today are still paying for supplies with their own money.
So when she wanted to honor her mother’s memory, Jacobson’s thoughts turned to PS 188, now part of the UFT’s United Community Schools initiative. She reached out to UCS, which in turn connected her with Altovise Green, the PS 188 community school director, and the idea of endowing a resource closet — to be replenished annually — took shape.
After discussion about how to secure the closet and fairly divvy up materials, the closet morphed into a tote bag filled with supplies for each teacher. On March 2, the inaugural “Evelyn Jacobson Teachers’ Closet” supply distribution was held at the school. Teachers received a tote bag filled with pencils, crayons, tissues, glue sticks, sanitary wipes and hand sanitizers. The last two items were especially appreciated as concerns about the coronavirus pandemic increased.
“I’m grateful for everything I got, but working in a school with germs and bacteria, I’m especially grateful for the wipes and hand sanitizers,” said special education teacher Jessica Langer.
First-grade teacher Elizabeth Flagler also appreciated the sanitary wipes, but her students treasured something else when she brought the tote bag to class. “The thing they were excited about were the crayons,” Flagler said. “We got to the point where we had run out of crayons.”It was a fitting tribute to Evelyn Jacobson. “She loved teaching and her colleagues,” said her daughter, who will fund the distribution of school supplies each year.
This year’s endowment was $1,500, but that may change. “I’d like to give a little more money next time so the paraprofessionals will get a tote bag as well,” she said. “Classrooms can’t run without the paras.”