Teachers get creative to fund classrooms

TIJERAS, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s no secret budgets are tight for school districts around the state and a lot of teachers are forced to pay out of pocket for many classroom supplies. It has some Albuquerque Public Schools teachers getting creative to get their students what they need.

Nearly 40 teachers in the metro are turning to kickstarter-like websites, posting things they’d like to buy for their students. Donors then pitch in.

One teacher is hoping to get her hands on something a lot of her students can’t access.

Meet Jessica Dawson, or as she’s known around her school, Mrs. Dawson.

She teaches first grade at A. Montoya Elementary in Tijeras.

Her classroom sits empty but that won’t be the case in a few weeks. She’s eager to get back to business.

“When you teach a kid something and you know that’s going to be with them forever, that’s priceless,” Dawson said.

Other things, like Samsung Galaxy tablets, have a price tag. At $170 each, Dawson can’t afford them for her students.

“A lot of the money teachers spend in the classroom comes out of their own pocket,” Dawson said.

The national average is $500 bucks every year.

“Ask my husband, in any given school year, I spend far more than $500 on my classroom.”

So to get those tablets, five of them in all, she’s turning to the internet.

“I absolutely do think that websites like this will be the wave of the future,” Dawson said.

She’s talking about donorschoose.org, where teachers can post something they need for their classroom and where others can pitch in money to help them out.

“I’ve had $80 dollars donated towards my project at this point,” Dawson said. “It would absolutely be doing the kids a favor.”

So why do first graders need tablets?

Dawson says many of the students that fill the hallways at school come from poverty-stricken families and don’t have access to that kind of technology. She says these are skills the kids will need to pass new common core standards.

“They need to be able to proficiently manipulate devices,” Dawson said. “It’s something that is required almost today. It’s not a luxury anymore to be technology savvy.”

Dawson says those tablets would mean new opportunities for learning, the kind of opportunities that make her job all worth it.

“That kind of joy, there are no words for it,” Dawson said.

A few years ago, Dawson was able to get some funding for art supplies through the same website.

Dawson says if she gets close to the amount needed, about $1,100, she’ll pay for the rest.

Any donations made by August 4th will be matched by the website up to $100.

You can find Dawson’s donation page here.

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