While attending the 2019 SXSW EDU Conference, Kevin J. Gray, Westchester K-12’s Managing Director completed a brief survey and received a gift card in return. That doesn’t seem very significant, however, the idea that it sparked has the potential to make a meaningful difference for many people. The gift card was for DonorsChoose.org, an organization that was started by a former public school teacher to help public school teachers obtain funding for projects they want to do with their class(es). Kevin has instituted a new initiative where each month, a member of the K-12 team – who are located throughout the United States – will select a project to benefit a public school classroom in their community. We look forward to sharing the stories of the team member and the project they selected, why the particular project was chosen, and the impact that it had for both donor and recipient.
Read about Kevin’s DonorsChoose experience:
Your Name and Title: Kevin J. Gray, Managing Director, WPS K-12
Tell us about your DonorsChoose.org project: DECA started as an early college academy—a high school that allows students to graduate with college credit and is focused on first-generation college students. DECA Prep is an extension of that program, one that reaches out to very young students with the goal of having all students reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade. Living in Dayton for most of my career, I have been very impressed with the work that DECA and DECA Prep does to provide students in underserved communities the advantages that will translate into success later in life.
Name/Location of School: DECA Prep – Dayton Early College Academy, Dayton, Ohio
Teacher’s Name: Mrs. Frazier
Grade Level: K-2
Project description: My students use their Chromebooks daily to read books online, play educational games, and take part in a wonderful online curriculum that teaches them lessons at their level. This online program includes incredible videos, songs, and audible story-telling, however, with a whole class using it at once with no headphones, you can imagine the chaos of sound it brings. Students struggle to concentrate because of all the noise. I also use this time to teach small groups of students, but it has proven to be a difficult task with the cacophony of sound.
Why did you select this project?
Many of the children who attend DECA Prep live in underserved parts of our community, making it challenging for the school and parents to provide requisite materials. Early literacy competency is crucial in creating a foundation for lifelong learning, so this project was an ideal way to help these students learn those important concepts.
If the teacher has contacted you since their project was funded, please share their comments:
Dear Kevin Gray,
I opened the email to see my project was funded with shock. Mere hours ago I was speaking with a teammate in sadness that I didn’t think it would get funded and I would have to pay for headphones out of pocket. To say I appreciate this is an understatement. I am so thrilled my sweet babies will be able to better learn thanks to you all.
How did it feel to be able to help fund this classroom’s project?
It’s wonderful to see how even a modest contribution, which was generously supported by SXSW EDU, Chevron, and Verizon, can have such a positive effect on a classroom of young learners. It has also inspired me to make working with DonorsChoose.org an ongoing activity that Westchester K-12 will participate in to support teachers in their classrooms. Each month, a member of the Westchester K-12 team will select a project for a classroom in their community to support, and I’m looking forward to the positive impacts this program will generate for all involved.
Interested in contributing to a classroom project in your community? Visit DonorsChoose.org, to find the project that inspires you.