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“And then it occurred to me that I could just make the box of supplies myself”

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School Box Toolbox supplies for first and second grade students.

School Box Toolbox supplies for first and second grade students. Courtesy of Nia Grigsby

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My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.

The inspiration for a new business strikes when it strikes. And sometimes, that’s during the pandemic, or even because of it. That was the case for Nia Grigsby, an elementary educator of 20 years, who founded The School Box Toolbox during the pandemic.

It all started last spring, when Grigsby was at home in Georgia with her two school-age daughters and teaching virtually. She said her daughters quickly ran low on school supplies.

“The children eat the pencils, they eat them, they just disappear!” she joked.

And as Grigsby recalled, at that time “people weren’t going back and forth to the stores. And I couldn’t go back to my classroom to get things because the school was closed. And then it occurred to me that I could just make the box of supplies myself. And that’s actually how The School Box Toolbox was born.”

Nia Grigsby, educator and founder of The School Box Toolbox.

Grigsby now gathers and packages school supplies for students from pre-K to high school that can be ordered on her website. Customers can also order personalized boxes.

With the school year in full swing, Grigsby is trying to juggle teaching fourth and fifth graders with parenting and running her new business. And it’s not easy. When it comes to teaching in a virtual classroom, she and her students are adjusting to the new technology. But for some kids, she said, learning how to use the technology alone isn’t the problem.

“Where people live, how people live, those things are really coming out,” she said.

For example, she explains, she has a lot of students who are in day care while learning virtually, and they have really “shoddy Wi-Fi. And so they’re getting kicked off of the Zoom meetings all day long. They’re spending their days in the waiting room, just you know, let me letting them back in constantly.”

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