In spite of tight school budgets and their own modest salaries, many of our nation’s teachers open their wallets to purchase school supplies to give their students the best education possible.  According to surveys by the National Education Association, teachers spend, on average, $443 per year on classroom supplies out of their own pockets.

I have spoken to many teachers in my home state of Maine who have described the books, rewards, supplies, and other materials they routinely purchase for their students.  A veteran elementary school teacher in Auburn told me of reaching deep into her pocket to buy materials, supplies, and other treats for her students. At the end of one year, she started to add up all of the receipts that she had saved and was startled to discover they exceeded $1,000.  She told me at that point she decided she’d better stop counting.

That is the kind of dedication that I see time and again from our teachers.  I have visited more than 150 schools in Maine, and everywhere I go, I find teachers who are spending their own money to improve their professional qualifications and to improve the educational experiences of their students by supplementing classroom supplies.  As President Bush aptly put it, “Teachers sometimes lead with their hearts and pay with their wallets.