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Classroom Stories

Students Set Out to Bring College Dreams to Life for New Immigrants

The gates to a college education should be open to everyone. Those inspiring words sum up the mission of several seniors at Brooklyn International High School, who found themselves facing a familiar problem: a college education can be prohibitively expensive. That’s doubly true for students who themselves are recent immigrants dealing with the challenges of moving to a new country. These four students–HuiPing, HuiMin, Steven, and Nasif–decided to find their own solution. Working with their teacher, Ms. Dang, they created a project on DonorsChoose.org called “An Immigrant’s Dream.” They wanted to film a series of short videos highlighting amazing immigrant
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In lieu of gifts, send coats

Tucked inside the invitation to her September wedding, Rickee Stewart’s friends and family found a twist on the traditional registry card. Instead of plates and cutlery, Rickee registered for “tennis shoes and Converse and backpacks and winter coats” to help support homeless students at her Utah school. When Rickee started teaching two years ago after a long career as an attorney, she realized what teachers across the country have come to understand all too well: Students can’t learn when they come to school hungry, tired, or self-conscious about their personal care. “A student cannot focus on my accounting lesson if
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Teachers Show Students the Meaning of Gratitude on Thanksgiving and Beyond

Thanksgiving means something different to everyone: Family, food, football, even more food. But at its best, Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude. Research into positive psychology has shown that gratitude has a cornucopia of mental and emotional benefits. From better sleep to better relationships, saying “thanks” is one of the most powerful things we can all do to improve our lives. Gratitude is baked into the DonorsChoose.org model. When a teacher gets a project funded, their students will write handwritten thank-you notes to donors who gave over $50. Every year, we hear from teachers who are using these notes in
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“I want my students to shine.”

Ms. Yonks is one of those teachers. You know the type. They create a warm, trusting classroom environment where students can thrive. They go above and beyond to make sure students have what they need to learn and grow. We’re in awe of Ms. Yonks — and the 393,885 other DonorsChoose.org teachers who help students shine every day.   Comments
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Finding the Right Book for Every Student

What was the book that turned you into a lifelong reader? Teachers have used DonorsChoose.org to request over 20 million books to help nurture the next generation of bookworms. After this fall’s #FillEveryShelf book match, we got a chance to sit down with an incredibly generous citizen donor, Elsa Brule. Her impact speaks for itself: Over the past 8 years, she’s supported tens of thousands of classroom projects. She’s also a book-lover of the highest order, and she enjoys supporting teachers who are helping students fall in love with reading. We asked her how she picks projects, why reading matters,
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A Teacher Found Out Her District Had 2,100 Homeless Students. She Decided to Do Something About It.

Rickee Stewart had volunteered with her school’s food bank before, so she knew that her Utah district served homeless students. But she had never imagined the scale of the problem: 2,100 students across the district were registered as homeless. “We’d learned that one of our students had lived outside for his entire Junior year. And that just broke me.” When she got engaged last summer, she decided to use her registry to make a difference. She went to DonorsChoose.org and created a classroom project for shoes and warm coats. Here’s what happened next. Rickee isn’t alone. Last year, we surveyed
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How Teachers at Mitchell Elementary are Rebuilding After Hurricane Harvey

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey swept across Texas and Louisiana, causing over $125 billion in damage.  Hundreds of schools were in its path, and those teachers have spent the past school year slowly rebuilding their classrooms. Take Mitchell Elementary in Houston. Their building was severely damaged during the storm, and with it all of their supplies for the new school year. When the waters receded, Mitchell’s teachers and students moved to a different campus across town to start the year, three weeks late and with only the bare essentials in their classrooms. To salvage the school year, they turned to
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How Professional Development Can Forever Change a Classroom

Teachers tell us all the time: Professional development makes them soar. It helps them stay up to date on educational best practices and pedagogy, connect with other teachers, and learn new techniques to help their students learn. Ms. Krieger teaches AP English in Upstate New York, and among her 177 (!) DonorsChoose.org projects she received funding for several incredible professional development opportunities. They range from writing workshops at Bard College to a learning trip to Nepal. We talked with Ms. Krieger about her projects, how they changed her teaching practice, and her advice for other teachers. Below is a condensed
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What My Students Taught Me: Wisdom for Everyone

About 400,000 public school teachers use DonorsChoose.org to bring resources to their students. Cumulatively, those teachers comprise a body of knowledge, creativity, dedication, expertise, and compassion like no other. However, when it came time to look back at this school year, we asked them to flip the script. We wanted to know: What’s one thing your students taught you this year? Answers ranged from the undeniably practical (“How to code”, “A lot about cars”) to the delightfully esoteric: “In South Korea, you can dial 113 to report a spy.”* “I wear the cheese; it does not wear me.”** The answers our
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Teachers Tell Us How Much They Really Spend on Supplies

Teachers go above and beyond to give their students every opportunity for learning. When school budgets can’t cover everything they dream of for their students, teachers reach into their own pockets to make up the difference. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) recently shared that public school teachers spend an average of $479 a year on their classroom — and that number rises with the economic need of a school. A whopping 94% of teachers spent their own money on resources for their classrooms in the 2014–2015 school year. A Nationwide Problem To get a pulse on the range of
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