School Climate & Safety

Schlepping and Learning

By Sam Boykin — April 20, 2007 2 min read

Jodi McKay was a homeless teacher.

Like many schools, Coulwood Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina, was overcrowded, and McKay became a “floater” there: a teacher without a permanent room. That meant she had to lug around everything she needed to teach social studies—books, a CD player, art supplies, maps, pens, pencils, and the rest—in a duffel bag or on a metal audiovisual cart as she dashed from room to room. It was, as she recalls, “very frustrating and inefficient.”

Teacher Trolley inventor Jodi McKay taugh sans classroom for five years.

She trolled the Internet, but was surprised to discover there was nothing on the market specifically designed for teachers who have to constantly schlep all their stuff around. Exasperated, she sat down in the school cafeteria one day, grabbed a napkin, and sketched the design for an ideal mobile office: a cart that would keep a peripatetic teacher’s sundry essentials organized and readily accessible.

McKay left Coulwood after five years of nomadism to have her first child in 2002, but the design she dashed off has now become a reality: The Teacher Trolley, as the 36-year-old dubbed it, is being manufactured in a Chinese factory—American manufacturing was prohibitively expensive—and McKay plans to test-market the product in September.

“I sure wish it had been available when I was a floating teacher,” says Suzanne Black, a PE and remedial literacy teacher who was roomless for many years at Coulwood. When she tried to transport her materials between classrooms, she remembers, “It was nothing for things to go flying off by the wind or hit a bump in the sidewalk.”

Priced at $900, the Teacher Trolley ( will have a desktop work surface, all-terrain wheels, a retractable dry-erase board, two hanging file drawers, multiple storage bins, and locking drawers. McKay has also developed a science-lab version of the trolley with a sink and running water.

She’s certainly done her math homework. According to the latest projections from the National Center for Education Statistics, overall school enrollment will set new records every year until at least 2014. And she’s targeting her pitch at 10 school districts that have between 40,000 and 75,000 students and have grown at least 80 percent over the past 10 years.

Given the challenges of building classrooms to serve all those new students and the expense of prefabricated trailers, McKay thinks she’s got an affordable alternative.

“Classrooms are sitting empty at schools all over the U.S. every day while teachers are on their planning period,” says McKay. “It doesn’t make sense. But I think we have the potential to realign the way schools look at [using] their facilities and make it more effective and efficient for everyone.”

For all the trolley’s apparent utility, however, it remains to be seen if it will float financially. McKay has so far sunk more than a quarter million dollars in loans and venture capital into the idea. She has three marketing and sales employees—like her, all are stay-at-home parents—but she has yet to sell a cart.

A version of this article appeared in the May 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as Schlepping and Learning


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP
School Climate & Safety Opinion The Police-Free Schools Movement Made Headway. Has It Lost Momentum?
Removing officers from school hallways plays just one small part in taking down the school policing system.
Judith Browne Dianis
4 min read
Image of lights on police cruiser
School Climate & Safety Spotlight Spotlight on Safe Reopening
In this Spotlight, review how your district can strategically apply its funding, and how to help students safely bounce back, plus more.

School Climate & Safety Video A Year of Activism: Students Reflect on Their Fight for Racial Justice at School
Education Week talks to three students about their year of racial justice activism, what they learned, and where they are headed next.
4 min read
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
Tay Andwerson, front center, Denver School Board at-large director, leads demonstrators through Civic Center Park on a march to City Park to call for more oversight of the police Sunday, June 7, 2020, in Denver.
David Zalubowski/AP