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Hampton Roads teacher vocalizes struggle to fund classroom supplies out-of-pocket

Janai has taught in the Hampton Roads region for five years. She said last year, she spent well over $2,000 of her own money on supplies.

NORFOLK, Va. — Students will head back to the classroom in just a few days, but teachers have been preparing for the upcoming school year all summer long. 

For many teachers, buying supplies for the classroom comes from their own pockets. That’s why some are turning to online fundraising to help ease the strain. 

You may recognize Janai from the popular YouTube channel called "Cut." In a video, the Hampton Roads educator joined other teachers to describe what they would buy with an extra $100. 

Janai teaches a variety of business classes for ninth through twelfth grades and is no stranger to the struggle of stocking up on classroom supplies. 

"We don't get paid as much but we spend on kids that aren't even ours," Janai said.  

She said it's not unusual for teachers to buy classroom supplies from their own pockets. She said districts provide money for big-ticket items like laptops or printers, but teachers are often left needing more for the day-to-day. 

“…If students need to go on a field trip or sometimes if students need to apply for a college and they don’t get a waiver, that’s teachers. We do that. We don’t have to, but we fill in the gaps where, you know, no one else does,” Janai said. 

Last year, Janai said she spent well over $2,000 of her own money on supplies. This year, she's hoping to ease the cost. She and thousands of other teachers turned to the fundraising site GoFundMe to help pay for school supplies. 

“For GoFundMe, I did a little video, and I talked about what I needed, why I needed it. That was it. I just got the overwhelming support," Janai said. 

Even strangers donated to Janai's cause, she said. 

Now, she’s nearly reached her goal of $1,000, allowing her to get back to her students without worrying about her wallet.  

“I was sitting at home and I was like, ‘I have this many people that’s willing to support me?’ That felt amazing, that felt amazing,” Janai said. 

Janai is going into her fifth year of teaching in Hampton Roads. She said what keeps her going is seeing her students succeed.  

Those interested in supporting Janai's GoFundMe can find the page by clicking here

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