WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Breanna Saturday hopes to be a first-grade teacher one day.
Saturday said she decided she was going to be a teacher during her senior year of high school.
"My mom was a teacher and administrator so I'm following in her footsteps," she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Saturday was getting some help looking the part.
"I'm starting over from student attire to professional teaching attire," she said.
College students hoping to become teachers like Saturday, as well as first-year teachers, stopped by the Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA) Wednesday for the Teacher Clothes Closet.
"Teachers, especially student teachers, don't have the budget to buy expensive suits for interviews or teacher clothes," Saturday said.
The clothes didn't cost them a dime.
Marcus Jackson will be a history teacher in a South Carolina classroom one day. He went to the PSTA office looking for a few dress shirts and dress pants.
"Teachers don't get paid that much and students don't have a lot of money so it's a good resource to have to rely on," Jackson said.
The Palmetto State Teachers Association started the Teachers Clothes Closet in 2014. Officials said they were surprised by the support and reaction they’ve received. It was originally started after a college professor learned a student-teacher didn’t have enough professional attire for a full week in a classroom.
Toni Chewning, the director of Association Activities, said the closet has made an impact on dozens of future and new teachers.
"A lot of them are overwhelmed by student loan debt,” she added. “This is something we feel like takes one of those concerns away from them."
According to the 2018-19 Supply and Demand Report from the Center for Educator Recruitment Retention and Advancement (CERRA), more than 5,000 teachers left the classroom before the start of that school year. Only 1,600 people completed a South Carolina Teacher Education program.
Chewning said doing anything, like providing some professional attire, to keep those 1,600 graduates in the classroom goes a long way. "It's going to impact their students in the future. It's going to impact the schools they end up working in because they are going to be able to look and act like a professional."
The Teacher Clothes Closet can be easily taken to any college or university in the state thanks to a new trailer.
You can drop off gently used or new clothes and accessories, like jewelry and neckties to the Palmetto State Teachers Association at 220 State Street in West Columbia. You can contact the PSTA at 803-256-2065.
You can find more information by clicking or tapping here.