Principal’s Perspective: My Back-to-School Wish List for Education Vendors

At this time of year, school’s are buzzing with preparation for the new school year. Principals have a lot on their plates right now, including what type of professional development teachers and staff need before the school year starts, what supplies are needed to stock classrooms, and, most importantly, how to budget for all these resources and more. In most districts, the fiscal year begins in the summer. This means the budget is healthy right now and ready to be used for things that will help to ensure a successful school year.

As school leaders like myself crunch the numbers of their budgets to decide what they can afford to invest in, it’s greatly appreciated when businesses show their support for teachers and students. Donations, discounts and flexible pricing are all ways to demonstrate that your company understands the financial pressures educators face and that you want to help us be successful.

Donating supplies such as staples, whiteboard markers, tissue, sanitizing wipes, pens, pencils, crayons, paper, etc. is not only important, but appreciated. Nationwide, there is a vast shortage of basic school supplies in public schools. Teachers have been purchasing classroom supplies and “extras” out of their own pockets for years. However, the demand continues to grow each year, with increased class sizes and increased student need.

Businesses that sell to K-12 schools might not realize the void they fill when they send or drop off a box of pens or pencils, a box of paper, or craft supplies. Those complimentary items provide a three-fold relief: For the school, its teachers, and its students. Small tokens such as this have a large impact on schools, even those that are generally well funded. There is a not school anywhere that would turn down extra school supplies. Donating school supplies is a good way to start to build a relationship and trust with a school’s staff that will make us more open to learning about your product or service.

Professional development in particular can be an expensive venture for schools, but a critical component of school success. Offering bundles such as “buy one seat, get one half off” or “buy five seats get, one free” for workshops helps us stretch our budgets further while still providing quality professional learning to our staff. Since professional development occurs throughout the year, another good incentive to purchase is to give schools a discount for booking their PD for the whole year now, instead of piecemeal at full price over nine months. And of course, if you can provide PD at no additional cost as part of your product implementation package, that’s even better!

If you are already working with a school, a nice gesture of appreciation for our business is an all-staff gift, something like breakfast or lunch during a PD day is always well-received. Back-to-school packages for the school or each teacher that include school supplies or classroom decorations like posters is also a nice gift and will help keep your product top-of-mind throughout the school year.

School administrators have two things at the top of their back-to-school to-do lists this summer, and all year long. First, providing a quality education for all their students. Second, accommodating the diverse needs of teachers and students within the budget they’re given. Companies who sell products and training materials to schools have an opportunity this time of year to make a big impact through small acts, while simultaneously growing their own businesses.



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About the Author

Jennifer Little is a K-8 principal in Arizona. She has a background in early childhood as well as elementary education. She has experience as a teacher, instructional coach and assistant principal. With Master’s Degrees in Elementary Education and Educational Leadership, Jennifer has knowledge of what schools need to provide learning opportunities to all students. She is happily married and has two wonderful children.

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