I first utilized DonorsChoose.org last year to get a refrigerator for my classroom. This year, I became very focused on getting projects funded that would provide the ideal learning environment for my students. My students are growing up in the same community I did. I see a lot of my younger self in them. The same culture, neighborhood, working class immigrant family. My parents came to the U.S. believing that it would give my brother and me the best opportunity to succeed. We attended public school and had teachers that cared a lot and some teachers that didn't care at all. Regardless, teachers did so much for us and I'm proud to be in this profession.
The projects posted this year had that goal in mind. It all began in the beginning of this year when a new friend, Terry Cheng donated a generous amount to one of my projects. I had posted a picture of my classroom door that had these cute animal cut outs that had shout outs to my friends Rita Tautonico, Daniela Belanich, and Jessica Navarro. They had speech bubbles that had a statement that used their name in some sort of pun. Terry had seen this on Facebook and asked if he would get an animal.
That was the question that started it all. Of course he should. I wanted to show appreciation to my donors who are also my friends and this gave birth to the WALL OF DONORS. I enticed my friends to donate with the promise of giving them their own animal and funny saying.
My wall began to expand. It's all about showing appreciation and gratitude to your supporters. Eventually, I started this blog to reflect teaching and many other components were added. I wanted to share with teachers the unique things I did to get projects funded. I sent the post to Jeana, tweeted it to @donorschoose via twitter, and shared it with others. The post would eventually be seen and enjoyed by many people and became a hit with people at DonorsChoose.org. Charles Best, the CEO of DonorsChoose.org, mentioned my post on a live chat with Fast Company. This was shortly after DonorsChoose made 9th most innovative company on Fast Company.
One of the coolest things was the live statistics screen. DonorsChoose has become very data driven. There was a screen that showed the amount of donations made today, number of donors who donated, number of projects funded, and other graphs.
I was introduced to more of the awesome people at DonorsChoose and then sat to have my discussion with James about my ideas. I shared how everything started. One of the most important things I wanted to share was how DonorsChoose has impacted my personal life. I think a lot of teachers see DonorsChoose as a resource to get supplies for their class. For me, it's much more than that. I explained to James how DonorsChoose helped me reconnect with my old elementary school friend, cousins I've lost touch with, and an old gaming friend who I've never met. Donors make everything possible and I wanted to show appreciation to them, whether they're family, friends, or complete strangers.
The meeting concluded with James presenting me with a copy of the Fast Company issue that DonorsChoose is featured in and a $50 DonorsChoose gift card! I hope that my ideas help contribute to the success to this fantastic company dedicated to helping teachers.
With everything going on this year, I've set goals to make a positive impact in my classroom, my school, my community, and somehow, someway, the world. I don't know what the future will bring, but I hope to be a part of DonorsChoose.org in a way that it will bring about great changes. I was told that I have a great voice for explaining DonorsChoose.org. Perhaps I could become the Voice of DonorsChoose.org!
Thank you James Walter Doyle and Jeana Takahashi for making this possible!