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EHS Law Class Receives Books From Web Site Donations

By Staff | Nov 19, 2009

LEARNING LAW THROUGH LITERATURE – Jill Schany’s law students at Emmetsburg High School recently received 50 reading books that they will utilize in next semester’s class. The books were purchased with online donations given to the class at DonorsChoose.org. Pictured (from left) are Lauren Zimmerman, Sam Huberty, Josh Kummer, Ben Pelzer, and Justin Hotchkiss. – Lori Hall photo

Ask and you shall receive.

One Emmetsburg High School instructor and her class are benefitting from the generous natures of individuals from across the United States. The online education charity DonorsChoose.org recently highlighted a project request for classroom materials submitted by Jill Schany, business education teacher at Emmetsburg High School. Schany sought a total of 50 reading books for her law class through her project entitled “Learning Law Through Literature.”

“I posted our request on Sept. 2, and learned on Oct. 31, that the project had been completely funded,” said Schany.

The reading books will be used in Schany’s law class next semester to help the students develop an understanding of the law and the importance of civic duty. Among the books purchased were ten copies each of “Breathing Underwater,” “Nothing to Lose,” and “Fade to Black,” all written by Alex Flinn, and “The King of Torts” and “A Time to Kill,” both by John Grisham.

“It is so important that students understand their civic responsibility, the civic responsibility of others, and their rights as citizens of the United States,” said Schany. “By using these reading books, the students will develop a mock trial using the characters and issues within the literature.”

She explained that the students will also have the opportunity to work with local lawyers and judges as well as have a simulated experience in a court of law.

Schany first learned about DonorsChoose.org when Barb Brennan, first grade teacher at Emmetsburg West Elementary, sought funding for classroom art supplies through the online site. Thousands of U.S. teachers are utilizing the web site to find the learning materials needed by their students. Donations go twice as far for many of the posted project requests, including Schany’s. DonorsChoose.org received a $4.1 million grant in 2008 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support teachers who aim to promote college-readiness among students in high-need urban and rural public schools.

Surprisingly, the Emmetsburg law class’s donors were from all across the United States–from Iowa to New Jersey, Virginia, and New Mexico.

“None of the donors had any connection to Emmetsburg or Emmetsburg High School,” Schany shared. “The donors gave in honor Adam Lambert.” Lambert, who competed on “American Idol,” supports education through the online charity.

Schany has an additional two projects that she is seeking funding for–one for a document camera and another for two digital cameras for the classroom. In addition to Schany’s projects, there are a total of six project requests in Emmetsburg currently posted at DonorsChoose.org and in need of funding–ranging from Weekly Reader subscriptions to a plastic skeleton. The projects can be found by searching by state and school district at www.donorschoose.org/donors/search.html.

Individual donors can contribute any dollar amount to these projects. Donations are tax deductible. Once a project is completely funded, a team at DonorChoose.org purchases the requested materials and sends them to the teacher. All donors receive photos of the project taking place, a thank-you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. Donors who give more than $100 will also receive hand-written thank-you letters from the students.

“This has worked out really well for us,” Schany smiled. “The response has been very positive.”