Monday, June 23, 2008

20 lousy pairs of scissors

Last fall I promised to take my BlogHer ads earnings for the academic year and donate them to a teacher through DonorsChoose. So it's time for me to report back on the teacher I chose.

I searched the DonorsChoose site for projects in New Jersey (where my kids would have attended public schools if we hadn't pulled up stakes and moved to Mayberry) in the amount I had to give. It's not a lot, but that's the idea behind DonorsChoose--individual donors supporting individual teachers in small efforts that make a big difference to students.

Possibilities included:

  • We have over 100 books in our classroom library. Unfortunately, we do not have a place to display those books. They are currently sitting in crates and boxes and my students have to sift through them to find the book or dictionary that they need. This is time consuming as well as damaging to the books.

  • My classroom is extremely noisy due to the old chairs squeaking on the floor. I've tried to minimize the noise by cutting up tennis balls and placing them on the feet of the old chairs, but it isn't solving the problem. My students already have a disability in that they have difficulty processing oral language, and the noise just adds to this problem. I need a large carpet which would reduce noise and make a more conducive learning environment.

  • My kindergarten class is filled with 25 eager and excited learners! However, during literacy centers, their enthusiasm is starting to fade because of the lack of interactive materials that are available. I want to create a center where students can use a multi-sensory approach to phonics practice. At this center, my students would have fine-motor practice by rolling play dough into a thin layer. The children will then use uppercase and lowercase letter molds/cookie cutters to punch out letters to complete different tasks.

  • Our school started a wonderful reading program for students at home. We supply the books and the students read at home every night. However, it is becoming harder to supply the students with enough materials on their reading level. My students love to read and read at least 1-5 chapters per night. They are reading through all the books in our classroom.
In the end I decided to fund a project for Mrs. C's classroom of 6th to 8th graders with special needs:
Since the first day of school this year my students have been complaining about
my canister full of ancient scissors. They are constantly asking to borrow the
"teacher scissors" which have mysteriously disappeared on more than one
occasion. If we had a class set of "teacher scissors" my students would be able
to really create the masterpieces I know they are capable of creating. We would
also love some tape to proudly display our work outside of the classroom.
Can you believe that? Scissors and tape. It's so simple that I want to cry. I'm not going to get into the politics of education reform and funding, but can we all stop and think for a minute how ridiculous it is that a teacher has to beg for basic supplies like these?

Updated to add: My teacher already sent a lovely thank-you note this morning (Tuesday):

You would not believe how excited I was today when I opened my email and
found that my Scissors That Slice proposal had been funded. Even though it is
summer break I will see a few of my students at our Summer Book Club in a few
days and I will be able to share the good news. The students will be ecstatic to
hear that we are getting new supplies, just for us! Before school ended we would
check the Donors Choose website at the beginning of each day to see if anyone
else had sponsored us! I can't wait until next fall to work with my students to
make beautiful projects with our new scissors and tape! Thank you so much for
your kindness and generosity! We really do appreciate it!

Updated to add again:



Heather said...

Wow, I can't decide if that's great or horrible. Certainly horrible that a teacher has to ask for donations of tape and scissors. You can get a 9-pack of tape at the dollar store for a measly buck for crying out loud!

What a great site.

Alex Elliot said...

Well, I think it's great that you are doing this! Yes, though it is horrible that in this day and age of excess where many kids have tons of different toys, a teacher needs scissors and tape. What does that say?

Lara said...


i'm glad you helped, though. :)

justmylife said...

Good for you helping out a teacher! That is a great idea. I can't believe a teacher could be happy with scissors and tape. Teachers around here want big ticket iems!

mothergoosemouse said...

What a cool idea. I know plenty of teachers in well-funded districts who still buy tons of supplies out of their own pockets, but this takes the cake.

I'll have to look at that site - thanks for the link!

Lady M said...

They need simple things like scissors? Sigh.

Hooray for you and Donor's Choice!

nonlineargirl said...

Ok, now I am depressed. (maybe it is time to go shopping?)

Bon said...

we don't prioritize very well, as a society. there's so much excess and waste that we don't seem able to get a grip on our resources and harness what's available.

i think what you did is cool, Mayberry.

Tree said...

What a neat experience for all of you! My faith in humanity is reaffirmed.

Mandy said...

I used to be a teacher. It's amazing what we never seem to have in the classroom.

What a kind gesture on your part!

Magpie said...


I think Donor's Choose is cool.

Christina said...

That's awesome that you're helping this class out. But it is so sad that they can't even get some decent scissors and tape without asking for outside help.

Lisa said...

Oh that is uplifting that you can provide those things to that class, but yet heartbreaking! Her note and the gratitude it conveyed made me all misty-eyed. w

bethiclaus said...

Okay, clearly the postpartum hormones are still churning, because I can't seem to stop crying about that letter. How sad that a teacher would need to beg for scissors and tape.

jen said...

i so love that you did this. now what else can we do. i'm in.

Anonymous said...

It is especially galling because one of my friends who works on a military base just told me that he could order whatever tools he needed for any reason - all the best stuff. His last big project: repainting fire plugs.

Kimberly said...

I'm with everyone else in the "uplifting/heartbreaking" camp.

Computers are nice. As are TVs and dvd players in every classroom. But without scissors, tape, markers that work, enough novels to read, and manipulatives that engage, kids don't get the full educational experience to which they are entitled.

BTW, I think it's awesome that you choose a seemingly simple request instead of something sexier along the "Look what I donated!" vein. I bet some of these simple requests get ignored because they seem so ridiculously small and easy. So hooray for you for doing it for the little guy (or class)!

Don Mills Diva said...

What a wonderful thing you did!
What a horrible reflection on the school system that it was necessary...

Swistle said...

What an awesome, awesome, AWESOME idea. I'm going to look into this. I always feel like the amount I'm contributing is too small to be worth contributing---but this clearly shows that's not the case.

Binkytown said...

Did that thank you note make you cry? It's making me want to and I had nothing to do with this.. BRAVO to you!

Karianna said...

Seriously makes me cry.

My husband's organization recently donated a drying-rack to a school so that the kids' projects could... um... dry before bringing them home. I figured all schools had those, but apparently not. They sent him a TON of their artwork as thanks.

But scissors? Wow.