Crowdfunding helps teachers supplement classroom needs
By Melissa Rollins, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The bare necessities are sometimes hard to come by for teachers, with many supplementing their classrooms with money from their own pocket, let alone anything that could be seen as extra or unnecessary for basic instruction. DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding website for teachers, is helping to bridge the gap and helping teachers provide a better education in the process.
Thornwell School for the Arts Visual Arts Teacher Stacey Johnson said that with funding often being specified for certain areas, it can be difficult to purchase items for projects she would like to do.
“Funding is non-existent,” Johnson said. “One of the big problems is that it gets earmarked for certain things. You can spend this money on this and this money on this but not necessarily what you really need.”
Johnson said that she is grateful for what she is able to provide for her students and wants to ensure that they receive the best education possible.
“I feel bad sometimes because, at our school, we are blessed,” Johnson said. “You walk into other elementary art classrooms and this is not what you see. We’ve worked really hard to get other grants because I always want to give the students the best quality. I use the money that we get, and we’ve worked hard for it, because there is nothing that substitutes good quality products or materials.”
Johnson has had several successful campaigns using DonorsChoose.org, many of which have provided items that can carry over year to year.
“I wrote my first grant for materials for mosaic stepping-stones,” Johnson said. “I got the grout, the molds and the glass. I try to do a few each year. The next one we had a learning garden that we tried to get going with the Hartsville learning community. We did clay wall pockets so we got tons of clay. The clay is really expensive so it helped supplement that.”
Black Creek Arts has been very supportive, Johnson said, contributing to some of her campaigns, including one to buy a pottery wheel.
The campaign that Johnson has currently is for Gelli Plates, a fun tool that allows you to produce a textured print.
“I love Gellie Plates,” Johnson said. “You can make your own, I’ve made my own before, but it is with Knox Gelatin and they mold and they aren’t permanent. We actually had a winner at the State Fair, first place for fourth grade, when we did that project. So if I had something a little more permanent that can be reused we could do more of that. But they are expensive.”
Being that Thornwell is a School for the Arts, there is some extra funding for arts related projects but Johnson said that she likes that money to go where it is needed the most so she and other teachers use DonorsChoose.org to supplement.
“We are a school for the arts but we don’t get that much extra funding to do that,” Johnson said. “The extra funding that we do get is through the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Grant. It is such a blessing because every year that I’ve been here we’ve gone up in that grant funding. We are constantly reviewing that plan and meeting those extra needs through that. I like to use DonorsChoose.org grants because that ABC money goes to all of our arts areas. We have a new dance teacher and she needs a lot more of that money to get going so if I can write little grants and supplement, we can spread the love to everybody.”
Since it began in 2000, DonorsChoose.org campaigns have raised over $625 million dollars for classrooms all across the United States. Anyone interested in donating can visit DonorsChoose.org and narrow their search by school district or school.