Supply store feels the pain of education cuts
ROUND ROCK — When the Texas Legislature slashed billions in pubic school funding during the first half of the year, Texans felt the impact throughout the state. Local businesses have also been affected by the secondary implications of those cuts, including A+ Teach Smart in Round Rock, a teacher supply store devoted to teacher materials and supplemental workbooks for students.
“It’s a great place for teachers, also a great place for parents,” said Dennis Guerra, who, along with his wife, Nikii, owns Teach Smart. “We have more than just teacher supplies. It’s educational supplies.”
Teach Smart sells instructional materials and educational products. The materials, such as workbooks students can use to supplement their schoolwork, span from pre-kindergarten to roughly eighth grade levels.
Nikii has 34 years of teaching experience in the public school system, primarily teaching elementary and middle school. She is currently an instructional coach with Pflugerville ISD, where her job is to interact with teachers, Dennis said; she observes lessons, offers suggestions, helps put lesson plans together and works with principals to ensure the school has a good curriculum.
Because of her career in education, Nikii has been shopping at educational supply stores since she began teaching, Dennis said. She initially wanted to open her own teacher supply store because she thought she could offer the best selection of materials, which is what the Guerras have been working toward since they purchased the store.
“As a teacher, I’m always looking for materials that will match with the best practices that we learn from instructional practices in the classroom,” Nikii said. “I noticed that a lot of times, some of the vendors’ materials did not really match. I wanted to be able to sift through materials in a store that would really match what the best instructional practices were.”
However, the current political climate isn’t helping their business; the Guerras saw a significant drop in business once news of the education budget cuts starting making headlines in January.
“Teachers, who make up a good part of our business, I think their confidence has been shaken in their industry,” Dennis said. “A lot of teachers were afraid they were going to lose their jobs, a lot of teachers did lose their jobs, and I think that for the teachers that are remaining, it has shaken their belief that their jobs are safe.”
Because the state is now employing fewer teachers, those remaining are watching what they spend, Dennis said. While the Guerras did expect their business to take a hit due to the general state of the economy, they’ve seen a significant drop in sales because of the lag in teacher spending.
“Something that the general public may or may not know is that teachers [pay] out of their pockets a lot for the supplies and the things that go up in the classroom,” Dennis said. “A large number of schools reimburse teachers, but most teachers you see out there are coming out of their pocket in order to make the classroom a more learning-friendly environment.”
A+ Teach Smart
1208 N. I-35, Ste. D