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home : schools and education : schools May 29, 2016

12/27/2013 8:22:00 PM
DonorsChoose.org shower night school with gifts of tech

Submitted by Tim Bombaci
Chelan Night School

Chelan Preparatory High School students are migrant youth between 18 and 21 years old. Typically they are on their own in this country, working as much as they can to help support families. By simply attending school, these students have already proven themselves as exceptional. After working long difficult hours, sometimes seven days each week, they still find time to engage in their own education. They typically join the program with an interest in learning Survival English. Many stay on when they understand they can work toward a diploma or perhaps a GED, but usually their English remains being of paramount importance.
These students have a very strong desire for self-improvement and understand how education can achieve that for them. However, it is often a stretch for them to attend even just the 2 or 3 hours of class offered in the evenings. Finding more time within any given day for class time is simply not possible. Finding ways to take fuller advantage of their time outside the classroom is key to their achievement and at the heart of this story.
It was my hope that compact audio technology could help accelerate the English language development of these students, and it was actually the suggestion of one of my students that led to my seeking MP3 players loaded with English lessons that they could take with them into the field.
DonorsChoose.org is a web based charity developed to support educators. It provides teachers exposure to a network of charity minded donors through the internet. I had heard of it years ago, but had never submitted any projects. I had written a note to myself weeks before taking action on it, but what came next was what was so amazing:
I know I may be crossing a line with the expectation that my students will take MP3 players loaded with English language lessons outside the classroom. But, since my class time is only as much as 3 hours each school day, taking advantage is key.
Frankly, I was dumbfounded. The thought of turning the idea of portable English lessons into a DonorsChoose.org project hadn't struck me until moments before I went to their website. Within an hour I had the project written up and within another day it was approved and posted. It was flattering for DonorsChoose to select this project for matching funds, but what was absolutely astounding was that it became fully funded within only about 48 hours - over $900 worth of Pimsleur English lessons and 12 Sansa MP3 Players. What's more is that many of the donors were anonymous or unknown by me.
Within less than one week of the project becoming funded, I had the language CDs and MP3 players in hand, had loaded the programs and had begun handing them out to students. As if all that wasn't impressive enough, having submitted my project in November, I was entered into a drawing and won a set of reading books for the classroom.
I can't begin to express my appreciation for what each of the donors have done, and how DonorsChoose.org helped facilitate their generosity. I can only promise to forward their good spirit though the work I do with these students.
And for all other educators out there with a sense of mission and a shortage of funds, consider DonorsChoose.org.





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