December 12, 2013

Tracy Sipes

Teaches Special Ed Grades 3-5
Hendricks Elementary

ISTA Member 7 years


At this holiday time of year when most kids and even adults have long wish lists of grand items, some lists are much more modest. Tracy Sipes, who teaches in Shelbyville, told me how thrilled her student teacher was the day before my visit. Why? Not only had the student teacher just landed a permanent position at Hendricks Elementary but her wish list for simple things—markers, pencils, erasers, pens—had been filled for free. Where? At a place called the Giving T.R.E.E.—a program started by Sipes.


T.R.E.E. stands for Teaching Resources for Education and Enrichment. Three years ago Sipes bought a pillow and a blanket for a student who needed some help. She also noticed that her kids were hungry and lacked classroom supplies. She bought snacks. She bought supplies. She knew many of her colleagues were doing the same since more than 60 percent of students in her elementary qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. “I just kept thinking about how I could help,” says Sipes. “I wanted to help the students and the teachers—especially beginning teachers who needed to make a good start.” It wasn’t long before the Giving T.R.E.E. sprouted.


Sipes’ partnered with fellow educator Sandy Bostic and volunteer Pam Lemmons and her church—Hope’s Point—that offered space to house a free store for teachers. Baskets of yarn, flash cards, buckets of pens and pencils, bins of staplers and erasers, old games, stacks of magazines and loads of math manipulatives line the floors and shelves of the donated space. Church and community volunteers contribute supplies or funding plus help staff the store a few days each month. “It wouldn’t work without the efforts of many,” Sipes says. “Teachers donate unneeded supplies and retired teachers get to clean closets and others get to stock up.” Plus local Kroger, Hallmark and Starbucks stores ask patrons to fill drop boxes with supplies.


“It’s a gift,” said Stands Rumple, an ISTA member who teaches art at Waldron Junior-Senior High School in Shelbyville and who spied a stack of cardboard rounds for a hat project. “I find something every month and I use it all.”


What’s on Sipes’ wish list? More donations—especially dry erase markers—but cash donations are accepted as well. If your wish list is to clear your shelves this season, donations are welcome at Hope’s Point, 1703 S. Miller Ave., Shelbyville, IN 46176.