Friday May 6, 2022

Appreciate Teachers Year Round With DonorsChoose

The first week of May is dubbed National Teacher Appreciation Week and is generally filled with ideas and opportunities to recognize and thank teachers for the life-changing work they do on behalf of our children. Every opportunity and idea should be taken advantage of as teachers continue to show up every day to provide education and care for students in an environment that is made complicated, challenging and frustrating by outside forces.

This complicated, challenging and frustrating environment could be simplified if political and other forces would step back, find common ground, and move on behalf of our children by treating educators as the professionals they are. The next best thing is for the community to understand the role we all play in making sure teachers are appreciated not only during National Teacher Appreciation Week, but throughout the year.

DonorsChoose is a web-based platform developed just for this purpose and the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation has assisted with putting more than $8.5 million into OKCPS teacher’s classrooms since 2014. DonorsChoose has a simple mission: To make it easy for anyone to help a teacher in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education.

DonorsChoose also has a simple and accountable process and one that is impacting hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country. Teachers post projects for what they need/want for their classrooms; DonorsChoose vets the projects before making them public on the site. Then, citizen donors and community partners fund the projects (an average of 81% of all projects are fully funded). School districts have the peace of mind in knowing that resources, not cash, are going to their classrooms and they are communicated with throughout the process. Materials are shipped directly to the schools. In addition, large partners regularly step in with matching gifts (they are providing up to $1.5 million in matching for Teacher Appreciation Week) and the OKCPS Foundation provides $250 to each of our teacher’s first funded project each school year. Small donors can contribute as little as $1 to a project of their choice.

A topic that shouldn’t really be up for debate is the fact that teachers using their own money to supplement classroom needs isn’t right. The big fix for that lives in the complicated environment already mentioned. And, despite the already mentioned frustrations and challenges, when you ask a teacher to describe the reason why they are a teacher, most will say it is because they love their students, they want to make a difference in their lives, they find it rewarding, joyful, and more than anything, their calling. Supporting them in the ways we can, like through DonorsChoose, is the least we can do.

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