Sarah Brown

On School Supplies

This year, I missed shopping for school supplies.

(If you’re a parent, you can stop reading here. I get it. The journey to procure the specific list of items denoted by your child’s teacher seems horrific. A colleague was just telling me about how her child’s school decided to go to a color-coding system, where each student needs to have a specifically colored folder for each subject [orange for Social Studies, blue for Math, etc.], along with other color-coded items. This sounds miserable. This is not the experience I was feeling fun heart flutters about.)

When I was a high-school teacher, shopping for school supplies was the exciting part of back-to-school time; you know, before the panic-inducing part where you have to think about an entire year’s worth of curriculum that you need to plan. School supply shopping was also a space to see what new, unblemished organizational items I could use in my classroom.

In an effort to recapture that feeling, I went to one of the traditional office supply chains to see what new “technologies” they’re peddling (because, of course, even the pencil is technically a technology). My findings: 

Lack of Lisa Frank

…was conspicuous. Apparently I have to go to Urban Outfitters for “retro” unicorn folders. Puppies and kittens are fine, I guess.



Availability of Novelty Jump Drives

…also conspicuous. When will physical storage items be phased out? 5 years? 10?



Physical Storage Continued

What happened to the people who made the software that allowed you to design a CD cover? Making a “mixed CD” that’s actually a Spotify playlist just doesn’t have the same romance. (Also, the formatting of the previous sentence shows how old I am.)



So Much Ink

Another thing that seems like it should phase out soon. How much longer will office supply chains need to dedicate entire walls to printing?



Back to physical storage…

When I graduated with my degree in Secondary Language Arts Education, I had more than 30 pounds of binders. I weighed them. Then I used them for kindling at an end-of-college bonfire.



My Danger Aisle: Pens

Seriously though – never enough pens. After my Ghostwriter felt-tip phase, I decided I was tired of ink leaking through the paper and went ballpoint only…until I discovered rollerball, which seemed like a happy medium.



Secondary Danger Aisle: Post-Its

Also, we’ve been using Post-Its wrong this whole time.



Five-Star Notebooks

Still a thing, thank goodness. The five-subject, college-ruled edition elicited the warm fuzzies I’d set out on this journey to find.


After about an hour, I realized I needed to extricate myself from the store. Here’s where I landed:

Didn’t Purchase, but Probably Should Have: Cat Post-It Dispenser


Actual Purchases

All nostalgia pics: Five-Star notebook, rollerball pens, and pastel Post-Its. Not the most exciting, but I still walked out of the store with that “new school year, new stuff” vibe.


Sarah Brown

About Sarah Brown

Sarah has worked in the College of Education and with FITS since 2010. She also teaches in the Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse department. She earned her undergraduate degrees in Secondary English Education and Writing at the University of Findlay in Ohio, and after teaching at Miami Valley Career Technology Center in Dayton, Ohio for two years, she moved to Chicago to earn her MA in Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse at DePaul. When she’s not teaching or testing out a new technology, Sarah runs, crochets, and cooks.

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