Philadelphia public schools teachers occassionally have to put learning on pause because the schools lack necessary tools.
NBC10 is teaming up with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and Communities in Schools to create the Supporting Our Schools initiative, a campaign helping raise awareness to those classroom needs.
DonorsChoose.org is one way Supporting Our Schools helps makes an impact. On the website, teachers can post their requests and then people choose where to donate to.
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DonorsChoose.org has been a help to many teachers, some of whom have, and still do, use their own money to help their kids.
“Knowing that there are budget deficits and things that are needed for the next school year, a bunch of us decided to go on and ask for some of those basic needs,” said Sara Lehman, a teacher at Antonia Pantoja Charter School.
In the past, Lehman has spent about $700 of her own money to provide for her classroom. Through Supporting Our Schools her simple request — copy paper — has been funded.
Eliza B. Kirkbride Elementary School teacher Thinh Thach laughed saying, "When I go to different workshops… they give out free pens. I would just tell them, ‘I’m a teacher,’ and, you know, ‘Can I have some more?’”
Thach, who usually spends around $500 per school year on her classroom, explained a very real dilemma: “Sometimes when we say we need things it doesn’t get to us, or it doesn’t get ordered in time or we don’t get it until like January.”
Reaching into their own pockets seems to be a common trend. Ashley Arhontoulis, who currently has a request on the DonorsChoose.org page, says “If that (needs) has to come out of pocket, for me, it’s absolutely a no brainer. It’s the first place my money goes because I care about this community very much.”
Through Supporting Our Schools, people have been able to make a real difference for students.
In Michelle Shaw’s classroom, donors recently were able to help South Philly students get a Biddy Farm with Fertile Chicken Eggs and a Chick Life Cycle Exploration Set. Shaw is a teacher at Francis Scott Key Elementary, a school who’s population, according to Shaw, is 100 percent economically disadvantaged and 40 percent English language learners.
NBC10 Philadelphia Supporting Our Schools has donated $1,210 and reached 116 students so far.
There are, as of now, 939 projects waiting to be funded.
Other teacher requests include a classroom library, iPads, a sensory room, sight words, Chromebooks and new basketball sneakers.
Up until July 29, people donating through Supporting Our Schools get to choose themselves where to put their money, whether they choose by community, topic, teacher or school.
There are other ways to support our schools as well. Text the word “BACKPACK” to 40403 to raise money for the United Way’s Backpack-a-Thon or donate to the school supplies drive on July 29 at Kennedy Plaza, Atlantic City, NJ. The drive lasts from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. All supplies will be donated to the Atlantic City School District.