Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stationery Story

The back to school commercials start in late July now.  I don’t feel the pull until the second week of August.  This is the exhilaration time for teachers, and even after retiring from the full-time routine the pull is always just as strong. 
I begin to think about stationery stores and then quickly lament that they don’t exist any more.  Or if they do, they hide in plain sight.  We have the big and getting bigger box stores and that seems to be about it.  Now the two giants, Depot and Max or Club, or whatever it’s called today, have merged.  Then there is Staples but they don’t even have decent staples.  I miss a good stationary store. 
Once upon a time I found things like file folders in unusual colors or wood grain.  Many choices of pens, pencils and the thing I love most, college-ruled, easy on the eyes, light green writing paper. 
I remember how just putting 5 sets of essays to grade in crisp new folders lightened the task.  I still employ that method for the work I do now with beginning teachers.

Maybe the pull of the office supplies has to do with the momentary control that comes with organizing the new products.  There is an instant for teachers preparing to open the year, when everything is pristine.  Nothing is missing, torn, graffittied, or broken.  The stapler is full, the writing paper in good supply.  Even the windows are clean.  For some, as in much of my experience, this all comes with rooms and furniture that have lasted for generations, but nonetheless, a delightful, ephemeral calm has settled on your learning environment.
One year, a particularly insightful parent worked a deal with a local stationary store in my community.  Each teacher was given about $300. credit and allowed to purchase whatever they wanted/needed for their classroom.  It resembled one of those multi-party lottery tickets for some.  While most purchased paper and art supplies and things that would hardly last the year, a few went for one big purchase.  One even bought a lectern.  I'm still trying to get my head around that, but it can't be helped.
Maybe just going online and being able to hunt for one of a kind or unique items will fill the slot that a local small business once held.  I doubt it but it's all that's left.  

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