With a vibrant smile and a bounce to her walk, Ms. Kari Blake-Schany started on another new adventure in her 29 years of being a teacher. This year, she began teaching the second graders of West Elementary for the first time. Having taught third, fourth, and fifth grades along with physical education and the Talented and Gifted program (TAG), Kari has always had a vision for how she wanted her students to learn. She has followed that vision with a tenacity that emboldens so many of our Emmetsburg teachers who make this school system what it is. This all culminates within her as she has three things in her life that are important for her: family, faith and her students; past and present. In 2009, the educational staff at Emmetsburg school district were told about an organization that could help the teachers acquire items for the classroom. Teachers everywhere do quite a lot for their students that comes out of their own wallets as so many school districts have such limited budgets. Kari took to the internet to see how her students could benefit from the program called DonorsChoose.org. Eleven projects later, and with a new adventure at hand, Kari found that she desired a gathering place for reading and other fun things to do on the floor together. Kari had found a really neat area rug that would also help her teach the students where each of the states are located and what they look like. It is a 6 x 12 rug with the map of the United States on it and they take turns sitting on each state while learning. Kari’s second graders are very proud of their new map rug and have so much fun learning with it and reading on it. At the time of the interview, the students “state of honor” was Texas, as they enthusiastically raised their voices. From California to Florida, all over Iowa and so many other numerous locations, donations had come in through DonorsChoose.org that made all of her projects come to life for her students. Donations have been made in memory of others, from student family members, former students of Kari’s, anonymous donors and also corporate donations among many others. Hewlett-Packard donated to two of Kari’s projects. Things as seemingly simple as: school supplies to a printer to an ELMO to make teaching easier and gives the students an expanded learning environment. DonorsChoose.org started in 2000 by Charles Best, a social studies teacher, in New York. The organization went national in 2007 and championed by Stephen Colbert the same year. In 2011, the organization was listed on the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World. With aspirations of helping put the public back in the public schools, DonorsChoose.org is and online charity of “citizen philanthropist” to public school teachers to help their student. They have a 70% success rate and the minimum a person can donate to each project is one dollar. There is even have an intern program for those interested in working with a non-profit organization. Many other teachers in our school system have used this program and there currently are three projects on the board. Check out DonorsChoose.org and help our teachers out so they are able to give our students the best education possible.
Victorian House October 5, 2014
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