ASU alumna starts business to provide affordable classroom supplies

Scholars Dollar provides access to affordable supplies for teachers

The sacrifices made by public school teachers have been widely discussed over the last few months.

School districts across the country have been advocating for an increase in teacher pay. Movements such as Red for Ed have allowed for voices to be heard and encouraged developments in local legislation.

Although educators' salaries have been at the forefront of media coverage recently, there have been people working behind the scenes to improve the lives of teachers for some time. From volunteering and donating to the development of organizations that make supplies more affordable, communities across the country want to support their educators.

Monica Baird, an ASU alumna, is the owner and founder of Scholars Dollar, an organization created in 2013 that aims to connect educators with one another and make classroom supplies more affordable. 

On the website, educators can list their school supplies for sale as well as shop for items, used or brand new.

Baird studied real-estate development at ASU, but soon discovered that the field was not for her. 

"I was super excited about it at the time because I had my real estate license and that's where I was told the real money was," Baird said. "However, after I graduated, I got a job at a local real estate company, and I was miserable."

Despite her early excitement about real estate, Baird had always had an interest in education.

"I always thought about teaching, but I never pursued it," she said.

Baird eventually pursued a career in education and quickly realized that educators — herself included — needed help to afford classroom materials.

“I do credit my time at ASU for letting me know that this isn’t the life that I wanted," Baird said. “But my first year of teaching, I spent $1,700 out of my own pocket, which I didn’t anticipate, and that is what got me on the path to opening this business.”

Teachers across the country spend hundreds of dollars of their own money every year in order to ensure that their students have the most successful year possible.

“Spending the $1,700 was a catalyst for me to start the business,” Baird said. “I know how important it is for teachers to do their best job.”

Baird said she wanted to ensure that teachers with passion were able to continue in their careers.

“I know a lot of teachers who have moved away from teaching – all because of the cost,” Baird said. 

Teachers across the country have discovered Scholars Dollar, and the business has fostered the growth of a community of teachers.

Monique Mason-Burrell, an educator of 11 years, is one of the members of Scholars Dollar, and she said she appreciates that teachers can help each other through this business.

"Scholars Dollar has given me the opportunity to get resources and supplies and share with others," Mason said. "My favorite part of this business is the recycling. I love the fact that we're able to help each other."

Developments in teachers' salaries have been closely watched by current education students — Megan Martin being one of them.

Martin, a junior studying elementary education, is passionate about the field but has concerns about the future of education in the U.S.

“I’m concerned that teaching conditions and accessibility to certain resources won’t improve," Martin said. "People need to remember that teaching isn’t an easy profession, and education is such a powerful tool to arm yourself with in life, so why are we still being so harsh against our teachers?”


Reach the reporter at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn on Twitter.

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