Sheree Woods is a high school art teacher at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, a big magnet school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Every year, like countless teachers around the country, she digs deep into her own pocket for school supplies.

Inside the art supply store, Woods works the aisles, carrying a plastic shopping basket.

After decades teaching, she knows good prices by heart. She calls herself the “coupon queen.” But she also knows she can’t scrimp on quality.

“I really believe that the students’ work, the quality of their work, will go up with the quality of their materials,” she says. “So it’s worth it for me to spend a little bit more. Just for those two-dozen pencils it could cost me $20, $25. So I’m hoping to get out of here today (spending) under $100.”

Colored Pencils, Watercolors, Brushes: Art Supplies Add Up

Credit: LA Johnson/NPR