Wednesday, July 25, 2007

School Supplies

Do you remember the feeling of getting all your new school supplies in September? Starting the year fresh with a brand new box of crayons and a tub of paste (love that smell), was something I always looked forward to and still do.

I think my obsession with school supplies began in the first grade. I still can picture my friend, Michelle, coming into the classroom on the first day of school. Her shiny black pony tails were bouncing, she had on a really pretty dress, and a huge smile across her face. In her hands was the 64 box of crayola crayons, the one with the sharpener attached, and a metal lunchbox. My heart sunk. I only had the 16 box of crayolas, and a homemade, fabric lunch bag. I was so jealous of that 64 box. All those color choices she had, and the ability to always have a fresh point.

From then on, I wanted nothing but the best.

Every Sunday, I search the paper for the Staples flyer. Staples often offers school supplies for FREE, with a mail in rebate. Jeff and I have made this a ritual. We go to Staples as soon as the store opens on Sunday, and get our free stuff. We even had to make a trip to Staples while we were visiting my parents in Florida, to get our free 12 pack of Sharpies. 12 Sharpies! Free! They also give away things like phones and remote controls for free, but its the writing utensils that really get me excited.

Working for a public school, I have to buy a lot of my own supplies. If you ask the school for staples, instead of giving you a box of staples, you get one strip of staples. Ask for a box of pens, and you get 3 bics.

My dad, on the other hand, works for a private college. Now, he gets some good stuff. Throughout my childhood, I remember my dad sitting at the kitchen table, grading papers using wonderful flair pens. He had them in red, green, and black. They had a really fine tip, and the plastic pen matched the color of the ink. There was never a shortage of those pens in our house. I've been know to raid the supply closet at his college for some of those nice "free" pens. He also had an endless supply of paper tablets, long and yellow. Nice.

My students know that if they ever need something - tape, paper clip, butterfly clip, white out, etc. - that I am the person to go to. I must admit my desk is like an office supply store. I have just about everything, and in more than one color. Students also know how to get on my good side, just bring me a nice pack of pens, and you'll be my favorite student forever. I'll never forget these great purple pens one student gave me. I love her!

Several years ago, I discovered a fabulous pen by Pilot, its called "Dr. Grip" (not to be confused with the inferior PhD pen). It is a gel pen that you can refill. It has a really nice weight to it, and is very comfortable to write with. I am extremely attached to that pen, and my students know it. When students ask to borrow a pen, I hand over my Dr. Grip cautiously and tell them, "This is my Dr. Grip, it is my favorite pen in the world." I remember one student asked, "Did you take it from a doctor's office?" I always get it back though. At the end of their senior year, I give my students their own Dr. Grip. They always smile when they open it, and I tell them they will always think of me when they write with it. I know they will. They bring it with them to their final exam, and show it proudly to me as they write their final essay of their high school career.

Towards the end of this school year, I was standing in the hallway and my Dr. Grip just broke in my hand for no reason. I had had the pen for over 2 years. I was heartbroken. I took the pieces, taped them to a piece of paper, and wrote "The Best Pen Ever 2004-2007". I hung it on my wall, behind my desk. My students got a kick out of it. I got comments like ,"You are weird" and "Only you would make a memorial to your pen." They seemed to understand though. They knew how much I loved that pen, and many offered to try and fix it for me. I have since replaced it with a new Dr. Grip. A person must move on.

This past Sunday, Jeff and I made our trip to Staples. They had folders for 1 cent, pencil packs and rulers for 5 cents, and mechanical pencils, called "Cazoodles", for Free! I almost bought those cazoodles during our last trip - glad I didn't - I would have been mad to pay for something I could get for free. They are really cool.

On our way to check out, we passed by the index card section. Jeff stopped and began looking at all the choices. He said, "You know, I have always had a fascination with index cards - their size and weight - all the things you could write on them."

I learned something new about Jeff that day, and realized why he understands my fascination with writing utensils. He was secretly harboring his own obsession. So, he bought some index cards, a box to hold them, and some dividers. He wants to use them to write down motorcycle parts information. Oh, the possibilities! He could do each type of part in a different color pen......or on a different colored card.....


Betty said...

I fully understand your love of the pilot grip pen. My love is for a fine line pencil that I bought at the dollar store. It was a one time sale. Everyday students could hear me say I love this pencil. When I retired it became essential in doing sudoku. One day it went missing. "School Supplies" brought back memories.
We have NO Staples. I'm writing the company. There is a great market for one here. It is discriminatory not to have the wonderful freebies available to us.

Dorothy said...

I too had a pen that I loved. I was in the sixth grade when I got my first Esterbrook Pen. My dad bought it for me at a stationary store in Philadelphia called McKinney's, which was located on Kensington Ave. The Esterbrook Fountain pens came in an array of colors. Mine was grey. Pens have come a long way since the days of Esterbrook Fountain Pens!!!

Sara said...

Guess its genetic!

Chris P said...

Re: Dorothy's comment. Fountain pens have come a long way since the days of those Esterbooks which, btw, have become quite collectible. I even got one on eBay that didn't need to be repaired. It still worked. It's my drawing pen now.