SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — While there are still a few more weeks left of summer vacation, Johnna Tzetzis, a second-grade teacher at Van Duyn Elementary School, is hard at work getting her classroom ready. She has an affirmation wall.

“The students love it and I do too,” Tzetzis said.

It’s just some of the personal touches she’s paid for herself.

“Some of it was donated,” Tzetzis explained. “I have had some donated more from family members and really close friends, but most of it came out of my own pocket.”

Some teachers do get a budget from their school.

“So a common misconception is that teachers get this large sum of money. When money comes into the district, it’s earmarked for certain things, so we have a budget where teachers divide the money, probably like $1000 amongst four teachers.”

Dr. Reba Hodge, Van Duyn Elementary School Vice Principal

Thien An Huyn-Boyle is a fourth-grade teacher at Van Duyn Elementary Schoo. She also uses her personal funds to make her class a place students look forward to coming to.

“So, my room I would describe it as an exploding, unicorn rainbow, paradise,” Huyn-Boyle explained. “You walk in and there’s rainbows everywhere and lots of unicorns. So my kids are super excited because they get to see all the colors.”

Both teachers participate in ‘Clear the List,’ where the community helps to buy items their budget doesn’t cover.

“You don’t really think of recess toys for school. But for my kids in the winter they can’t go outside, so we stay inside and who just wants to sit inside recess and not do anything,” Huyn-Boyle said.

During the pandemic, her list also covered the basics.

“I had to send pencils home much more frequently, notebooks and all of that,” Huyn-Boyle said. “So I had people help buy those items and I sent it home.”

These educators say they will do all they can for their students. And making sure they have what they need to thrive in the classroom is priceless.

View Thien An Huyn-Boyle’s list here.

View Johnna Tzetzis’s list here.