OAKHURST – One local teacher is determined to give her students the best education possible, and that includes new computers that aren’t in the current school budget. What’s her solution? She registered her classroom online at DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that lets people donate directly to specific projects at public schools, in a process sometimes known as peer-to-peer philanthropy.
Oakhurst Elementary School (OES) teacher Robin Ward has created a page on the popular website for her 5th grade students, a group of 25 kids who have dubbed themselves the “Crystal Arrows.” Mrs. Ward has requested just over $2,100 to purchase new computers for the classroom.
“The OES Crystal Arrows hit the ground running everyday and we never say the word ‘can’t,'” says Mrs. Ward enthusiastically. “We believe in ourselves and our abilities; nothing holds us back.”
Mrs. Ward calls herself “the luckiest teacher in the world” with students who “live to learn.” Their classroom, she says, is run like a business: students have their own ‘office space” and get “paid” for coming to school and doing their work.
“They take their jobs seriously and commit to setting and reaching goals together. We challenge each other and support each other on all levels. Computers are a giant part of our program and a tremendous asset to their learning and success.”
Crystal Arrows are currently working on a big planning project that involves budgeting time, money and itinerary. The class is usually allotted one hour per week in the OES computer lab, which amounts to less time than is needed to effectively do research and create the Power Point presentations the class expects to do.
“Having laptops would make a tremendous difference,” Mrs. Ward explains. “The hard part is, the existing computers in the lab are older and don’t run quickly enough to keep up with the technology. We also do research reports and expository writing in fifth grade and being able to research quickly is critical when students are sharing computers.”
Students at OES are fortunate to be surrounded by nature in every direction, and Mrs. Ward is also looking forward to the portability that laptops could provide, especially when compared with the immovable desktop computers they have now.
“I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I’ve created a classroom project request at DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning charity.”
The class room request is simple: Mrs. Ward’s class is seeking donations for Updating Computer Technology and Accessibility, as it reads online. One of the interesting things about DonorsChoose is that teachers must list specifics, so each donor knows exactly what their money is going towards, to the penny.
After comparing computer brands and prices, Mrs. Ward decided on four Toshiba laptop computers, calculated the precise cost, including tax, and listed the request along with other specifics on the website. The total costs comes to $2,121.76. So far, she has had two substantial donors and is on her way to reaching the goal of having four brand new laptop computers for her 25 Crystal Arrows to share.
From now through Nov. 24, any donation up to $100 will be matched if donors enter the promo code INSPIRE on the payment screen.
Mrs. Ward isn’t the only area teacher who is turning to online open source donations to build her classroom bag of tricks. Mary Beth Harrison at Evergreen High School in the Yosemite Unified School District recently put together an online proposal to raise funds to purchase digital cameras for her classroom. She was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the project came together. Before long, the students were out taking photos with their new school cameras.
DonorsChoose enables contributions from virtually anywhere, so it’s a great way for extended family to show support to a child’s classroom. There’s also a feature where potential donors can view opportunities to make a difference by zip code.
Ideally, Mrs. Ward’s class will have rapid results, and soon the Crysal Arrows will be able to fully realize their dream of having computers in the classroom, and outside.
“Having these computers would be amazing and priceless gift to my students,” says Mrs. Ward with great hope. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?
Check out the Crystal Arrows request on DonorsChoose.org. Reminder: every dollar doubles through Nov. 24.
Visit the OES website.
Read about new digital cameras at Evergreen High on SNO.