OAKHURST — For students on independent study, the school day can be isolating and boring. We want to give them the opportunity to get out of the house and out of the classroom to take photos of the beautiful area we live in.
So, I submitted a request for funding to a website called donorschoose.org. They help teachers get the funds necessary for small to large projects by helping publicize the need and then seeking donors.
We made a request for $400 to purchase three digital cameras with 16 GB memory cards and protective cases. Within 24 hours of submitting the project, it was fully funded!
Along with the request for funding to donorschoose.org, I described my desire to help students look at the world from a photographer’s point of view and to inspire them to be creative while capturing digital images of their world.
I have seen tremendous turn-arounds in students who find something in school to get excited about. Many students love art and are interested in photography but do not have a camera.
We live near Yosemite National Park that many students have never visited. The plan is to take my photography students on field trips to local areas where their task will be to capture the breathtaking beauty in the large landscapes and small flowers. Students will spend more time experiencing the world around them and less time dwelling on their own problems.
I believe photography can be the “hook” that keeps discouraged students in school and can build a skill that will carry into their futures. This is a small investment that can pay off in a huge way for kids who need some light in their lives.
Our digital cameras have arrived and our students took them out to Fresno Flats Historical Park for a field trip. It was a great success.
My students are so happy to have access to them and thankful for the generosity of all the donors. Three students who did not have cameras were able to check out our donated cameras to take along. I instructed them to use the cameras to capture the fall colors, the historic nature of the park, and the smallest of items that most of us tend to walk by without noticing. We got rained on, but no one seemed to mind at all!
The students had fun trying all the different functions on the camera. Students quickly learned how to change the camera settings to use the special effects they love so much.
Because my students are in an independent study school, they did not know each other before the field trip. I noticed that those three students using the donated cameras were soon talking and laughing with each other as they shared photo ideas and menu items in the camera settings.
Technology definitely brings teens together! Having a camera in hand also helped students stay tuned in to their surroundings and made them more observant.
One of them, who had very little photography experience, ran up to me several times to show me a picture he had taken. He was amazed at how simple items such as a nail in a barn wall, a lace curtain, or just a single leaf could become a gorgeous photograph.
I hope to acquire a few more cameras in the future so that any student who wishes to take our photography course or capture images from a field trip may do so. We are now working on a project to combine all of our photographs and create a poster with captions that will serve to share the experience with other students and visitors to our school.
Maya Angelou said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” We feel blessed today and my hope is that this gift from donorschoose.org blesses the lives of others as well.
For more information contact Mary Beth Harrison at Evergreen High via (559) 683-8801 ext. 244 or visit the District website www.yosemiteusd.com
Mary Beth Harrison is Lead Teacher at Evergreen High School
Editor’s Note: For more information about donorschoose.org visit their website and search your zip code for links to area schools seeking support.