Giving the continual tightening of purse strings by the School District of Philadelphia and the School Reform Commission, many teachers are embracing the internet as they look for funding for small projects and initiatives.
And thanks to the work of national nonprofit Produce for Kids and partner Giants supermarkets, those plans received a jump-start totaling $169,000 that is now going toward several teacher-led projects on the DonorsChoose.org website.
The money will go toward the four projects, which are a part of the ongoing “Healthy Schools, Healthy Minds” campaign. The partnership provides half the funds requested by each teacher. Teachers only have to submit their request to the website, and donors can choose to give as much or as little as they prefer.
For example, a teacher from Joseph C. Ferguson Elementary School is asking for help in teaching her students health and nutrition, and is requesting monies for one set of books about healthy habits and a second set of books about food and nutrition. That class also needs 30 health vocabulary journals; the teacher originally requested $299, but the partnership has funded half and the teacher now needs only $140.
Another example is teacher Mary Clarke’s “Squeaky Clean” request. Clarke works out of Alain Locke Elementary School, and is asking for monetary donations to help improve the overall health and safety of her classroom.
“I am requesting hand sanitizers, facial tissue and basic cleaning supplies to help keep the classroom environment clean and protect the twenty-eight students' health for the remainder of the school year. Many students have been taking days off from school to combat severe colds, stomach flu and other viruses which they spread amongst themselves. With the requested materials, I am hoping to reduce the spread of illnesses amongst the students and thoroughly sanitize our classroom environment periodically to keep everyone safe,” Clarke wrote. “My project is very important since it will provide my students with much needed items to keep them safe from the spread of the cold and flu. With the continuous spread of germs and no prevention, students are more likely to stay home from school for days at a time and miss valuable instruction.”
Some of the requests are small compared to the millions the district spends, but also illustrates how the district has cut costs by letting the little things go. Melissa Schwartz, A teacher from Abram Jenks Elementary School is requesting a new carpet for her class; Schwartz’ class meets in the all-purpose room, and currently students have to sit on the cold gym floor while receiving instruction. Schwartz also has a secondary campaign running concurrently, in which she is trying to have the entire gym remodeled.
Lastly, Jeff Stepansky, the physical education teacher at Juniata Park Academy is requesting donations to implement a new, high-energy game for his students.
“The resources I am asking for is a new kind of game called Tchoukball. Tchoukball does not allow contact or interference between players. No position is a human target, like a quarterback or goalie. With no body contact, injuries are minimized. No player can steal the ball nor intercept a pass, instead rewarding strategy and cooperation as teams play on both offense and defense. Tchoukball is easy to play. Rules are intuitive and easily grasped,” Stepansky wrote. “The game requires minimal equipment. It can be played indoors or outdoors. It accommodates mixed team play, and no player monopolizes the ball. All the players must be involved, both on offense and defense. Tchoukball requires alertness and concentration. It teaches anticipation and physics, as well as teamwork and trust. Tchoukball promotes eye-hand coordination and develops skills that enhance physical and mental output. This game will improve my students’ fitness and mental level.”