ESPN, College Football Playoff Foundation fund 100 JCPS school projects
From books, yoga ball chairs and Legos to supplemental curriculum, iPads, and other technology, a number of JCPS teachers are cheering upon hearing that their classroom wishlists have been fulfilled by ESPN and the College Football Playoff Foundation through DonorsChoose.org.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The excitement for Saturday may be focused on the big game between Louisville and Florida State, but teachers at more than 100 local schools are also cheering upon hearing that their classroom wishlists have been fulfilled by ESPN and the College Football Playoff Foundation.
From books, yoga ball chairs and Legos to supplemental curriculum, iPads, and other technology, a number of Jefferson County Public Schools teachers started the school year with ideas on how they could enhance their classrooms and better help their students. They uploaded their project idea, along with a budget to www.donorschoose.org.
On Friday, a total of 121 projects requested by 101 teachers at 44 schools were notified their projects had been funded with the following email:
"In celebration for Extra Yard for Teachers Week, the College Football Playoff Foundation and ESPN are proud to go the extra yard for those who have gone the extra yard for us. We look forward to seeing how these resources help inspire your education."
More than 12,000 JCPS students will benefit from these projects being funded.
Price Elementary School teacher Joseph Rice his kindergarten students "love to come to school to learn and experience new things through fun and interactive games and activities."
He was looking for $2,700 to purchase Letters Alive and Numbers Alive and a Zoo cart with audio.
"My students will benefit greatly from the engaging activities that Letters Alive and Numbers Alive will provide," he wrote. "I have read and spoken to other teachers that have used it and they say their students have shown significant progress on both literacy and math concepts. I want to provide my students with the same growth in an exciting and fun way that they will want to learn and keep learning. The teacher's "Zoo Cart" will provide students with the space and organization to maintain efficient routines and procedures to amplify the learning time with Letters Alive and Numbers Alive. It provides additional sound and storage space for the materials and equipment to run the activities."
Upon hearing his project was fully funded on Friday, Rice thanked ESPN and the College Football Playoff Foundation:
"Thank you so much for playing such an important part in the education of my students! I just know that they are going to love learning using the materials you have so graciously provided. Your kindness is helping these students become readers and thinkers. i believe that literacy and education are the keys out of the poverty cycle for my students. Thank you for valuing them as much as I do!"
Some other examples:
Klondike Lane Elementary School teacher Rebecca Reynolds was looking to purchase yoga balls to use as chairs for her guided work center.
"We are a new Kindergarten class looking for new ways to learn every day," she wrote, adding she had read research showing that "replacing regular classroom chairs with yoga balls increases student alertness, improves behavior, engages both sides of the brain, and even improves legible word productivity."
"Your generous donation will help numerous students through something as simple as changing part of the classroom furniture," she wrote, estimating it would only cost about $200 to purchase seven yoga balls.
In a second project, Reynolds asked for help with purchasing a mini iPad and new protective cases for her classroom's other iPads.
"Students use iPads as a part of reading, writing, science and social studies," she wrote. "We also use them to help teach social skills that the students need to function in their daily lives. They are utilized as a part of whole group, small group, or individual instruction, as well as behavior management. My students love to have iPads in our daily instruction and I want to keep them running and protected for years to come!"
Upon hearing both her porjects were funded, Reynolds sent out a tweet:
Portland Elementary School librarian Ashleigh Kraus wanted to help her kids "Become Better Writers and Thinkers Through LEGOs."
"My students range from kindergarten to fifth grade, and many of them live in inner-city Louisville," Kraus wrote, "For the most part, many of them come from backgrounds that don't emphasize literacy. Since we have an urban population, many come from low income homes where taking time for reading and writing isn't or can't be a priority. These kids come in with a variety of educational backgrounds, racial and ethnic compositions, and religious experiences. Most of all, these kids are just children who still need to experience the wonder, empathy, and adventure, not to mention the intellectual challenge that reading and creative writing can offer."
Kraus submitted her project on Aug. 3, asking for $340 to purchase a LEGO Story Starter core kit set and the historical minifigures "set to engage them as writers and kick start their creative thinking, writing projects, and communication skills."
"With these kits, my students will be able to manipulate pieces and create sets that can serve as inspiration for the stories they will be writing," she wrote.
On Friday, she was notified that her project was fully funded.
"I am shocked and so excited that this project got funded. My students absolutely love Legos and I am so excited to bring them these tools that will increase their creativity, critical thinking, and writing skills. Thank you so much for investing in the lives and futures of my students!" she wrote.
Slaughter Elementary School teacher Tara Osbourne was looking to purchase three iPads for her classroom.
"My fourth grade classroom is made up of a very diverse group of kids," she wrote. "The overwhelming majority of them come from low socioeconomic households and many of them are learning English as a second language."
Osbourne said the addition of three iPads -- a cost of $1,000 -- will help "increase students engagement and focus by allowing them to play games and activities that will further their understanding of key concepts."
"I will be able to utilize interactive activities, videos and lessons in which I can demonstrate concepts and strategies for my students," she said.
Upon hearing her project was funded, Osbourne wrote:
"Words can not express how grateful I am for you funding my project! I am beyond excited to share the news with my sweet students! THANK YOU - THANK YOU -- THANK YOU! I can not wait to get these iPads into the hands of my students!"
Foster Traditional Academy librarian Erin Wallace wanted to boost the robotics technology and increase her makerspace.
"We currently have just a few things to choose from which often leaves some students feeling disappointed," she wrote. "Please help our collection to grow so that every student that walks into the library has many options. Help us keep our library up-to-date and bring us into the age of innovation!"
Wallace's project, which cost $784, includes an Ozobot and Dash and Dot Robot pack that will help her students take their existing level of coding knowledge to the next level.
"Our students have the ability to learn complex ideas and technology - now we just need a little help acquiring the materials," she wrote. "The robots, littleBits kit and Snap Circuits to our collection will greatly expand their range of choices allowing for a greater potential for STEM-based learning."
Wallace was overjoyed to hear her project had been funded.
"My students are beyond thrilled about what is on the way to our library!" she wrote. "I cannot wait to share updates on how your generous donation is helping to improve what libraries can offer children.
More info: DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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