A teacher who built a comfortable classroom last year with almost $5,000 of her own funds discusses why it aids in students’ learning.


    Michelle Medintz, an elementary school teacher, spent thousands of dollars on books and other stuff in 2022.
    Medintz said that using her own funds for her class is a decision she made and does not distinguish her as a superior educator.
    She mentioned that she enjoys furnishing cozy classrooms.

    A book lover’s paradise may be found in Michelle Medintz’s “cozy corner” in her fourth-grade classroom. In addition to her classroom library, the corner has cuddly animals, couches, and a canopy.

    Medintz told Business Insider, “It’s a calm down corner for the kids when they’re overstimulated or just really emotional.”

    Her own purchases are stacked in the corner.

    With books, math manipulatives, and “all the supplies needed for them to succeed,” Medintz stated that she wants her classroom to make her kids feel at home. She claimed that this implies she must use her own funds.

    “I just wish that those people who say we have it easy because we get summers off dipped into their own pockets to do the same,” Medintz stated.

    According to documents provided to Business Insider, she has spent at least $5,000 on books for her class in 2022.
    For more than 20 years, Medintz has been an educator. Her previous school closed, thus she is attending a new one for the 2023–2024 school year. She continues to attend the same Colorado school district.

    She added that she chooses to pay for things out of her own pocket. She stated that “you can be a highly effective teacher and not spend your own money.”

    “That doesn’t make me a better teacher than my colleagues,” she responded. “I’m not one to hold it above everyone else and say, ‘I’m better than you because I’m spending money.'”

    Like Medintz, a lot of teachers pay for their own expenses.

    Despite her wish that educators wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket, Medintz stated, “I know the reality is that there’s never going to be enough money for us to be able to give our students everything that they need.”

    Medintz advised new instructors to find out what supplies their institution may offer or assist with.
    She added, “I believe that classroom setup is a must for individuals who are just starting out as teachers. Furthermore, there is no possibility that individuals just entering the field will be paid enough to get started.”

    Given her years of expertise and two master’s degrees, Medintz claimed to “make a good income”. She described herself as being “high up on the pay scale.”

    In 2022, primary school teachers in Colorado made an average yearly salary of $59,170, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    According to Medintz, she hasn’t likely spent as much money this year as she did in 2022.

    Medintz stated, “I realized I really need to cut back a little bit,” adding that she could still use some of her earlier purchases.
    Additionally, Medintz stated that because the “school does have a lot of that stuff, and we got all of that stuff at the beginning of the year,” she hasn’t had to spend money on school supplies this year.

    “This school does give teachers if we ask for something, they do actually make sure they have the money for us to be able to get what it is that we need,” she stated.

    Medintz has purchased numerous books with her own funds. Medintz claimed to have studied children’s literature during her graduate and college years. She claims that despite her love of literature, she disliked reading as a child and didn’t want to read “because there were never books in my school that I could read that I could access.”

    “When I thought about myself as a reader and other students that I’ve taught as readers, I realized I want my students to be able to put — doesn’t matter what level they’re at — to be able to have a physical book in their hands,” she explained. “So, one of the things I do each year is check out the many television shows that have been released that my children could find interesting. Every year, I ask my children, “What books would you like to read?”

    After that, she would purchase books and stock her student library’s baskets with them.
    Michelle Medintz’s “cozy corner” in the classroom. With thanks to Michelle Medintz
    Additionally, Medintz has invested money in tactile arithmetic manipulatives, which help students understand math concepts more effectively on the classroom. She mentioned that two math-related purchases she made last year were fraction tiles and math memory cards.

    “They need to be able to figure out how to do something rather than just pencil on paper,” she stated. “They need to move things around and figure out why something is.”

    Although Medintz has used a large portion of her personal funds to purchase goods for her pupils, she acknowledged that she has also used the DonorsChoose website, which allows users to make donations for “projects” such as school supplies and other items that are requested. Although none of the projects Medintz posted this year—mostly related to snacks—have received funding as of yet.
    Every two weeks, she opens a ClassDojo store where students can “buy” rewards like pencils and stress balls with their earned points. She also uses her own money for these purchases. According to Medintz, her pupils can receive points “for positive behavior choices.”

    “I have also created a Dojo menu that includes things like lunch with the teacher and ice cream sundae party for the whole class and so much more,” she stated.

    Medintz declared that she would not cut back on her financial support of her pupils. “Teaching is what gives me joy, even after a really long day,” Medintz stated.

    Her favorite thing to do is have a former pupil pay her a visit.
    “They want to come back because they remember you and they remember how much impact you had, that’s why I stay in what I do,” she stated.

    In your other work or as a teacher, how much do you pay out of pocket? To share, send an email to [email protected], the reporter.