With most Kern County schools starting on Wednesday, students and teachers have been getting ready for classes to begin, with teachers' prep going all the way back to the end of last school year and through the summer.

Local stores were busy on Sunday with teachers and families finishing up their shopping. At GW School Supply on Calloway Drive, people like Tammy Pritchard, a principal and teacher of a sixth, seventh and eighth grade combo class at Linns Valley-Poso Flat School in Glennville were picking up final items for the classroom. 

Pritchard was purchasing items like classroom games and kits for STEM-related activities using donated funds. She said she had previously made multiple trips to the store and was picking up last-minute materials. 

She said in her experience, teachers can buy around $100 worth of supplies to be reimbursed, but frequently spend their own money. 

"Every teacher buys their own stuff, I think," Pritchard said.

Abigail Hilliard, who is starting her first full year as a sixth-grade teacher at Louise Sandrini Elementary School, said that getting ready for the school year means much more than buying supplies and setting up the classroom. 

For Hilliard, preparation actually began at the start of summer with planning days coordinated by the school principal. She also attended professional development training courses over summer offered by the school district. 

"It is amazing, and it is really useful to a new teacher," Hilliard said. "I know I am prepared and I have the guidance and support."

Hilliard said she has also been preparing by reviewing what she will be teaching over the year, creating lesson plans and looking at data on her incoming class. 

"I think that is truly what teachers are looking at when they're preparing for the new school year," Hilliard said. 

Students and parents have been getting ready by going over teachers' lists of recommended items. At GW School Supply on Sunday, Sharmen and Keith Lewis were taking their daughter Cece shopping for a list of supplies including binders, earbuds and pens. They had already ordered a backpack online and purchased clothing, such as new shoes. 

According to a survey by Offers.com, 33 percent of parents said they expect to spend more than $30. The survey also found 30 percent of parents plan to shop at mass merchant stores for their children, while 26 percent said they planned on going to department stores and 23 percent to online sites. 

Marisa Chavez is a parent of two students at Old River Elementary and two at Stockdale High School. She said she spent around $200-300 per student on clothes and shoes at outlets, online and in stores like Target and Kohl's. As of Sunday, she had not shopped for school supplies yet, but was hoping to spend around $50 total. 

Chavez said she was looking forward to getting "back into a routine and a set schedule."

Teachers like Hilliard are ready to see students grow over the year.

"Coming in, I can see where they already are and where they need to be, and I am so excited," Hilliard said. 

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