New Tools 4 Clay store opens for teachers at Orange Park Junior High

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/6/21

ORANGE PARK – The wallets of teachers in the school district will remain a little fatter this year thanks to a new shop at Orange Park Junior High.

The Clay Education Foundation cut the ribbon …

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New Tools 4 Clay store opens for teachers at Orange Park Junior High

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The wallets of teachers in the school district will remain a little fatter this year thanks to a new shop at Orange Park Junior High.

The Clay Education Foundation cut the ribbon for its new Tools 4 Clay Schools shop at the school on Jan. 4, and it will be a new supply depot for any and all teachers in the district. Teachers were very excited to see what was in store for them.

“This is so fantastic,” Clay High teacher Victoria Gallagher.

A portable on the OPJH campus is referred to as the Tools 4 Clay Schools store, but it’s really not much of a store. That’s because all of the supplies inside are free to teachers. Clay Education Foundation executive director Makayla Buchanan said thanks to the help of the foundation’s many partnerships with businesses like Office Depot, The Bailey Group and many other local businesses and organizations that donate school supplies to the foundation and offer discounted bulk pricing to it as well.

The State of Florida’s matching dollar program allows the foundation to double all of the donations that come in by 100%.

Buchanan said the store is a long time coming for the district. She was hired two years ago and the foundation held a pop-up shop once a year right before teachers and students went back to school. Two were held the following year and now 2021 brings a permanent location for the teachers of Clay County.

“The school district donated the portable to us last Spring and our goal was to have this open for back-to-school but obviously with COVID-19, things happened differently and we did a big drive-thru store instead,” Buchanan said. “But since then, we’ve been outfitting it with all the shelving and getting it ready to go for today when teachers arrive for the first time ever.”

Teachers are able to sign-in to the store’s website online and it’s there that they schedule a time they want to shop. The store won’t be open every day, but teachers will be notified of the days it is open through internal communication.

Buchanan said the store already is bursting at the seams with supplies and that the foundation is looking for an even bigger location in the future be it an additional portable in the district or a larger, more central building. The portable at OPJH is filled from floor to ceiling with scissors, notebooks, paper, pens, pencils and so much more and the first two educators to enter it, Gallagher and teacher assistant Sherry Hamilton, were excited for their first shopping trip in the store.

“We pay for a lot of things out of pocket,” Gallagher said, touching on the reality that is teaching. “I’m so happy, just so very happy, about this new store. It’s a really fantastic thing.”

Hamilton said her teaching background lies in Virginia and that she’s never heard of anything like this.

“It makes me feel really good about my first year doing this in Florida,” she said.

Superintendent David Broskie helped Buchanan and the others with the store’s ribbon cutting and he said it was an honor.

“Many thanks to the Foundation and their leadership on this project, and The Bailey Group and our other various partners,” Broskie said. “There’s no doubt that teachers spend money all the time on their students and so the idea that we could provide this for our teachers, who you know then are just simply giving that to the students of our district, is a very proud moment for our district.”

“This is a great school and this is a great opportunity for our teachers and ultimately, the students of Clay County,” he said.

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