Tools 4 Teaching ‘store’ is priced right for Springfield educators

Tools 4 Teaching Store Opening Ceremony SEA Committee of Retired Teachers members, from left, Nancy Meyer, Jean Haley, Chris Williams, Gail Healey, Pat Sullivan, and Ronnie Tillman.

Retired Springfield educator Chris Williams remembers cringing whenever she saw perfectly good classroom materials tossed into the Dumpster.

“I was in a K-to-5 building and a preK-to-1 building, and materials were just discarded when people left or whenever a new publisher came on board and we wanted to get rid of the old materials,” Williams recalled.

After seeing a television news story about a Florida school district that took in donated pens, notebooks and other materials from businesses to make them available to teachers for free, Williams thought that Springfield should do not just the same, but better.

Williams and the rest of the Springfield Education Association’s Committee of Retired Teachers added the important component of recycling, diverting usable materials  – both purchased and homemade  – from the Dumpster and getting them into the hands of teachers.

The Tools 4 Teaching “store” opened on  Sept. 19, stocked with books, posters, markers, construction paper and the like, all donated by local businesses or teachers who had retired or were taking on new assignments where they would no longer need the accumulated materials.

Amanda Santana of Ells SchoolAmanda Santana
Ells School
In space donated by the city, the store sits within a fenced area inside the Richard E. Neal Municipal Operations Center at 70 Tapley St. in Springfield. Consider it the little-box alternative to those big-box stores that teachers often have to run to when they need classroom supplies.

A group called Springfield School Volunteers is facilitating business and corporate donations to Tools 4 Teaching so the donors can take advantage of that group’s 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status at tax time. The Springfield Teachers Credit Union and Mass Mutual Financial Group have already sent in items, some surplus and some left over from conferences and seminars, according to Denise Cogman of Springfield School Volunteers.

Teachers can also procure classroom furniture stored at the Neal building.

Members of the SEA Committee of Retired Teachers staff the store on the second Thursday afternoon of each month to collect materials, and on the third Thursday afternoon of each month to be open for “shoppers.”  As long as the “shoppers” have a Springfield school employee ID, the Tools 4 Teachers merchandise is free.

Committee members involved in the project include Chris Williams, Ronnie Tillman, Patricia Sullivan, Mary Scherpa, Nancy Meyer, Gail Healey, Jean Haley, and Sue Fielding.

Questions about donations can be sent to Williams via email at