BLADENSBURG, Md. — For public school educators, shelling out hundreds of dollars of their own money is a long-standing back-to-class ritual.
According to a recent survey, 94% of teachers spend their own money to stock their classrooms with the necessary supplies and resources. On average, a teacher will shell out about $479, although 7% said they spent more than $1,000, according to the National Education Association survey.
As children across the DMV head back to class, many teachers have needs their schools just can’t cover. So WUSA9’s Impact team partnered with DonorsChoose to grant Little Wishes and help teachers like Mrs. Cruz-Donelson at Bladensburg Elementary School in Bladensburg, Maryland. WUSA9's Lesli Foster worked with the principal to surprise Mrs. Cruz-Donelson and fulfill her "Brain Power" project.
Principal Dr. Judith Haughton-Williams is excited to get students back in the building.
"We just can't wait to see them," Principal Dr. Haughton-Williams said.
"There's nothing like in person for a closer connection emotionally," Dr. Haughton-Williams said.
Principal Dr. Haughton-Williams said Mrs. Cruz-Donaldson is a phenomenal kindergartner teacher who's in her second full year with the school and she's very committed very dedicated to her students.
"I just want to make them feel welcome," Mrs. Cruz-Donelson replied. "Know that they're going to be successful and we're in this together."
She said she's excited students will be getting back to class and wants them to fell like school is an extension of home.
We surprised Mrs. Cruz-Donelson with new playground balls, a hopscotch mat, pogo jumpers and learning centers for her classroom - You can watch her excited reaction in the video player at the top of this story. She had reached out to Donors Choose for the help, and through our partnership with them, we were able to fund her project to get here what she needs.
"I wanted tools and resources that they can use for their learning, their physical well being." Mrs. Cruz-Donelson said. "The instant learning center I can already see setting it up in our different stations to help them with their reading, their reading comprehension, learning how to read."
"That's such a blessing. It's, oh my goodness, it's such an honor and a lot of teachers dig into their pockets to make those possibilities happen. I appreciate the community giving back to us," Mrs. Cruz-Donelson said.
Want to help teachers? Here's how it works:
- Teachers in our area use the DonorsChoose website to create projects in need of donations. Find a project that inspires you, and donate as little as $1. DonorsChoose is a public charity, so donations are tax-deductible.
- Once a project is fully funded, DonorsChoose purchases all the requested items and ships them directly to the teacher.
- Every donor gets a "thank you" from the teacher, photos of the project in action, and a report of how each dollar was spent.
Teachers in our area are asking for everything from mathematics and reading materials to new classroom carpet and Amazon Fire tablets for students.
DonorsChoose has been helping teachers in need for 20 years. The site was launched in 2000 by a history teacher in Bronx, New York. Since then, the site has grown to help teachers and students get the tools they need to succeed.
According to the DonorsChoose.org website, projects have helped raise $1,123,416,196 to support teachers in 84,469 schools across the country.