Baseball players who hit .300 are superstars, which suggests that Greendale Elementary School teacher CaraLynn Williams is a DonorsChoose superstar.
A teacher for nine years, Williams has sought eight grants through the national nonprofit organization and has received all of them.
Like thousands of educators across the country, Williams posts grant proposals on the DonorsChoose website – seeking a few hundred dollars each time. She learned about the latest, successful grant last week, providing funds for supplementary science materials to use with her fifth graders. When she applied for her first grant early in her career, Williams had no expectations on how the program would work.
“Since then, I’ve posted my grants on social media,” she said. “Donations have come from retired teachers in the Aiken area and others from out-of-state – even from military people out of the country.”
Every year, teachers throughout the Aiken County School District receive DonorsChoose grants. While there are no assurances teachers will receive grants, about 70 percent do.
Two other Greendale teachers – kindergarten teacher Liz McClearen and science specialist Kristin Wells – were delighted to get notifications last week, as well, that DonorsChoose has successfully brought them money to use in the classroom.
Founded by a teacher in the Bronx, the DonorsChoose program started accepting grants in 2000. Some people make contributions anonymously.
“I find that surprising,” said Greendale Principal Sonya Colvin. “There are people who go to the site and look for grant ideas that interest them enough to donate to a person they don’t even know. Our parents also will make donations to their children’s teachers.”
McClearen has received three donations in the past. Her newest $277 award, in part, will provide the cost of alphabet “tubs” full of items that introduce her 4-K children to letters – such as an apple for “A” and a ball for “B.”
Often, McClearen will keep in contact with donors.
“I’m building a community of followers who want to know about (the) kids and how they are doing,” McClearen said. “Those donors are coming back, as well as family and friends. There’s a great community here at Greendale, too.”
Wells meets with students from all grade levels, providing them with a wide range of science activities. Yet Wells’ grant is titled, “Reading Is Not Boring.” With additional materials, she will focus on reading comprehension for fourth-graders to assist them in science and other subjects.
“Some don’t have as much exposure to reading at home,” Wells said. “It’s exciting when someone chooses to fund you.”
Teachers and prospective donors can find more information at www.donorschoose.org.
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT Greendale Elementary School teacher CaraLynn Williams, has received her eighth DonorsChoose grant during her 9-year career. Joining her are fifth-graders, clockwise, from left, Quartez Scott, Korey Heath, Katita Mozone, Vernon Lawrence, Manssa Orlandi and Jayla Valentine.×
STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT Kristin Wells, a Greendale Elementary School science specialist, gets a hug from fifth-grader Tayonna Taylor. The DonorsChoose program has awarded Wells with a grant she will use with her fourth-grade students.×