Art Teacher Paints a Picture of the Importance of Materials in Her Classroom

Jaclyn Cairncross teaches IB visual arts at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although she’s resourceful, she still struggles to provide all of the materials her students need each year.

While she says her school’s supply budget is relatively good, mapping out materials for the entire year with two other visual art teachers can be difficult. An average art project can cost between $10-20 per student. Cairncross has more than 100 students.

“I have to buy clay, glaze, paint brushes, acrylic paints, tempera paints, watercolor paints to aprons, rags and paper towels… I mean the list goes on,” said Cairncross.

“Last year, my classroom ran out of funding for the last two months of class, so it was up to me to purchase materials.  If I didn’t get funding from, I would be spending my own money to bring those things in myself.”

Two-thirds of all school supplies are purchased by teachers out of their own pockets. On average, 82 percent of teachers said they purchase art supplies for their classroom from their own funds.

Art isn’t just pretty pictures.

In 2014 The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities found that “students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.”

Jaclyn and her students are passionate about art. Jaclyn’s student Desmond explained, “It would affect me if art classes were no longer offered at the school because I’d feel like something just died.”

Other students, like Shaadia, feel their success and happiness at school depends on expressing themselves through art. “There are so many students who want to be in art and there are many students that need art.”

Help your art teachers

Art student Shaadia thinks art teachers shouldn’t have to spend their own money.

“I think they must love their students if they’re spending their own money on them, but it’s kind of sad,” she said. “I think if you’re coming into a job and you’re expected to do something there are certain things you are expecting from the school. You should be given the supplies you need to teach. Art teachers need supplies.”

With the help of extra funds from, Jaclyn can purchase all of the necessary materials, so her students’ creativity won’t be limited.

Like Cairncross, art teachers around the country are in need of funding. Support her classroom here or other classrooms in need with the Art Fund.