BOUNTIFUL — Michelle Francis knows immediately if a student is having trouble with a concept she is teaching.
Each child has a response device called Activote that allows him or her to indicate privately if help is needed. The device prevents students from feeling the embarrassment she once felt as a student, she said, when she didn’t understand something but didn’t want to admit it by asking for help.
It is in part thanks to the generosity of a donor from Virginia that the need in Francis’ first-grade class at Valley View Elementary has been met.
Someone from New York is helping finance her latest requests, as is someone else from North Carolina.
Francis has taken advantage of DonorsChoose.org, a website that connects public school teachers with donors interested in supporting public classrooms.
“A lot of the stuff I wouldn’t be able to have otherwise,” said Francis. “It’s not stuff you can ask parents for or that you can afford. It’s been nice to be able to get things that I know I can use in my class.”
To date, the association with Donors Choose has funded 40 projects in Francis’ classroom that together cost $23,000. She is now seeking funding to purchase abacuses to help with math and materials for a reading station.
“This means a lot to my students too,” said Francis. “Whenever I get a box they know it’s from Donors Choose. We’ve talked about why it is that someone from across the country would want to help them. They know three or four of the donors now and they really get a personal connection. They know the donors want them to do well in school.”
There are 249 public schoolteachers from Davis County that have received $180,000 to fund 352 classroom projects in the past year, according to a press release. Francis hopes others will participate as well.
At an informational session sponsored by Horace Mann, she shared information on the program. Horace Mann, an insurance company that focuses on educators’ financial needs, has contributed $1.3 million to school projects through donorschoose.org since Feb. 2011.
It was a social studies teacher at Bronx high school who saw the need for such a site. Teachers there “experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in our public schools,” according to its website. Charles Best created donorschoose.org in 2000 so that individuals wanting to help distressed public schools would have an avenue to do so. Its aim is to engage the public in public schools, “by giving people a simple, accountable and personal way to address educational inequity,” according to their mission statement.
For more information check out the Oct 18 edition of Davis Clipper.