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How To Organize Your Classroom - On A Budget
Goodwill Industries International

By Felicia Czochanski
courtesy of Goodwill Industries International 

It’s starting. Back to school flyers are popping up in mailboxes and store advertisements are hinting at long lists of items students need for back to school. And as students scramble to finish up their summer reading assignments, teachers are already handing in their final lesson plans for the year and are starting to get their classrooms organized for fall.

Kicking off the school year with a clean and organized classroom is important and can even shape the success of the year. When students walk into an organized classroom versus a messy one, they have more respect for the room and the teacher, and they also know that they won’t be able to get away with shirking on their own responsibilities, because their teacher is on top of things. For teachers, however, creating a welcoming yet expectation-heavy classroom is no easy task. And many schools don’t have a budget for these types of organizational materials, so teachers end up paying out of their own pockets.

Fortunately, not all organizational hacks need to break the bank. Especially when you shop at Goodwill, where you’ll find a mix of well-loved and brand-new items that come with affordable price tags. And each time you shop or donate to Goodwill, you’re supporting their mission to break down barriers to employment, and provide others in your community with jobs, making shopping there a totally win-win experience.

When a lot of people think of Goodwill, the first thing they think of is second-hand clothes. But, most Goodwill stores have departments that go beyond the expected clothing and shoe racks. Think books, home goods, wall art, kitchen appliances and more. It’s in this home section that teachers will be able to find the items they need for some creative classroom organization. Check out the ideas below for more inspiration.

Whether you have an excess of pens and pencils for your desk, or markers and crayons for your students, mason jars are an inexpensive and easy-to-find organizational tool that will make your classroom look organized in just a few minutes. To take it one step further, label each jar with what you want it to hold and that way both you and your students will know where to put everything back after they are done using it.


There are some really cool looking dish racks out there these days – so much so that you won’t even be able to tell what it used to be. Dish racks can come in handy for organizing notebooks, papers, stickers, folders and more. Just about every Goodwill I’ve been in has had at least one and they’re priced really reasonably. The one in the photo was found at a Goodwill near me in Brooklyn, for the low price of $4.


If you teach younger children, (or have a few of your own) you know how quickly toys can get strewn across the floor and into a mess. Goodwill’s home section not only sells toys for $1-3 each – just give them a run in the washing machine and they’ll be good as new – but also woven baskets which are perfect for organizing them when playtime is over. I’ve seen baskets in a variety of sizes, some are perfect for toys and stuffed animals and others look like they would be great to hold blankets or pillows for storytime. The baskets I saw were reasonably priced at around $5 for larger baskets, which would run you $30+ at other retail stores.

Goodwill Repeats as a Veteran Employer Champion
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

For the second consecutive year, City of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, Community Service Council and Oklahoma Veteran Alliance recognized Goodwill Industries of Tulsa as a Veteran Employer Champion for supporting veterans in the workplace.

The Veteran Employer Champions program is the product of a statewide survey launched at a Governor’s Veteran Symposium in October 2017 with the goal of building an employer network to create programming and peer-to-peer learning for organizations interested in recruiting, hiring and developing veterans in the workplace.

This is the second year for the Veteran Employer Champion Survey. For 2019, Goodwill and the other recipients had to show a deeper level of work to be recognized. The survey encourages employers to continually take intentional steps to ensure they are creating a veteran-ready workplace to be recognized as a champion.

Courtesy Photo: City of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum (center) stands with representatives from Goodwill Tulsa and others at the Veteran Employer Champions announcement ceremony on July 1. (From left) Panela Ballard, CEO of the Community Service Council; David Oliver, president of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa; Sabrina Ware, director of Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy and Goodwill Job Connection; Parrish McDaris, coordinator of TulsaWORKS; Rick Wyatt, human resources assistant at Goodwill; and Denise Reid, board member of the Community Service Council.

To earn recognition as a Veteran Employer Champion, companies must meet six benchmarks: veteran hiring and recruiting; veteran resource groups, onboarding, or buddy programs; veteran programs and community support; veteran employee resources and/or supports; veteran executive sponsor leading veteran strategies; and guard and reserve employee supports.

Including Goodwill, 14 companies were recognized Monday: American Electric Power/Public Service Company of Oklahoma; Americon Technologies; Baker Hughes, a GE Company; Berryhill Fire Protection District; Chesapeake Energy Corporation; City of Tulsa; Enterprise Holdings; Lowe’s; Melton Truck Lines; NextOp; ONE Gas; ONEOK; and Spirit AeroSystems. The program recognized Bizjet International with an honorable mention.

Goodwill is committed to helping veterans succeed in the workplace as are others like the City of Tulsa, which is taking a lead effort in expanding employment opportunities for veterans within the Tulsa community.

“We want Tulsa to be a city where veterans are honored for their sacrifice with community support, economic opportunities and quality healthcare,” Mayor Bynum said. “Our goal with this program is to properly recognize those community partners who demonstrate their commitment to supporting Tulsa veterans with meaningful employment and growth opportunities.”


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