New Clothing Closet Will Help Future Teachers Get Off to Good Start

Donations of gently used professional clothing and accessories are needed.

January 9, 2023

EWU’s School of Education is opening a clothing closet to ensure its students have the professional attire they need to succeed as they embark on their careers in the classroom. The closet will be open by appointment for students, starting in January.

“Students need professional clothing for their teaching placements, for interviews and for their professional lives after graduation,” says Stephanie Lauritzen, director of field experience for the School of Education. “We’re looking for whatever people have that might be useful in a professional clothing closet.”

The closet needs donations of new and gently used clothing and accessories, ranging in style from traditional dress items, such as blazers, cardigans, blouses, dress shirts and ties, to business casual attire like polo shirts and khakis. (Please see the full list of needed items below.)

“For teachers, it’s a wide range of things, because we have elementary school teachers who might need to crawl around on the floor with the littles, so that means clothing that might be more comfortable. Physical education teachers will need athletic clothing, or teachers in higher grades might need more formal clothing,” Lauritzen says.

Lauritzen says she, Tara Haskins, professor of education, and Stephanie Boughter, field supervisor for the School of Education, brainstormed one day about how to further help their students. Lauritzen recalls, “We were just thinking, what do they need? What are they lacking?’”

The organizers have successfully amassed hundreds of donated items by reaching out to friends, family members and colleagues. Lauritzen even tapped into a Facebook “Buy Nothing” group and picked up plenty of nice-looking items to add to the closet.

“I’ve gone to a lot of places to pick up bags and boxes,” Lauritzen recalls.

Stephanie Boughter also went to many estate sales over the last 3 months and offered $20 for all the clothing.  When people found out the reason for the bargain hunting, Lauritzen said, they were excited to be part of it.

The group even secured donated tables and racks to use for displaying the clothing as well as a space to utilize for the closet (the location is undisclosed to maintain confidentiality for the students served).

In addition, the group applied for and received $4,500 from the EWU Eagle Grants Program. The program, supported by the EWU Foundation, provides funding for innovative proposals from faculty and staff that will enhance the university and its mission, support the university’s strategic plan, provide opportunities for development and research and increase student participation. Since 2010 the Foundation has awarded more than $450,000 in such grants to help faculty and staff positively impact student success.

Lauritzen says the grant funds will help to fill in gaps for things they couldn’t receive through donated channels, including additional display racks and gift cards for students who may land jobs in communities that are out of the area.

One of Lauritzen’s goals is for students to be able to walk out with up to three outfits. In order to reach that goal, the closet must be continually replenished.

With some students working part- and even full-time jobs to afford college and living expenses, and the need to reduce work hours to embrace unpaid student-teacher requirements to gain experience, affording new clothing can be difficult. Yet, having the right attire can make all the difference for young teachers who must fill a role of authority in front of a classroom filled with children or teens.

Students in need of professional clothing and accessories, can make an appointment via email by reaching out to Stephanie Lauritzen at slauritzen@ewu.edu.  

The closet will initially serve education students, although the group hopes to later expand the closet to serve the entire College of Professional Programs and then, eventually, serve the entire EWU student community.

EWU Professional Closet is looking for the following items. If you’d like to donate, you can contact her at slauritzen@ewu.edu or drop donations off at her office, 310 Williamson Hall.  

  • Blouses 
  • Blazers
  • Collared shirts 
  • Ties 
  • Slacks 
  • Gym clothes 
  • Accessories 
  • Shoes 
  • Tights
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Suits
  • Anything you can think of that might be useful for a teacher