Comedian Stephen Colbert declared Thursday he would fulfill hundreds of grant requests by South Carolina teachers on the education crowdfunding website DonorsChoose.org.
On the website, teachers can seek funding for projects they want to undertake in the classroom. The pricetag is usually between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Colbert announced that he, ScanSource and The Morgridge Family Foundation’s Share Fair Nation would team up to fund every single currently active grant request in the state of South Carolina. Overall, almost 1,000 projects at close to 400 schools will be funded, at a cost of about $800,000.
Many of the beneficiaries of Colbert’s largesse had simple requests, such as seeking money for additional books or for math instructional materials.
Some of the requests, however, were substantially more interesting:
1. $760 in cow eyeballs
Mrs. P at West Ashley Middle School in Charleston says her children went two years without a science instructor, and to improve their knowledge of anatomy, she asked for $760 to purchase 101 preserved cow eyeballs, along with the required equipment for her students to dissect them.
2. Over $100,000 in iPads
Despite the depressing example set by Los Angeles, teachers are total Apple addicts, and it shows in their funding requests. Out of the $800,000 that Colbert and his partners are spending, more than $100,000 of that will be going straight to Apple in order to finance the purchase of hundreds of iPads and iPad Minis, while thousands more will be spent to buy supporting keyboards, headphones and other products.
3. $591 to tint lights
Mrs. Kozelski at Edith Frierson Elementary in Wadmalaw Island thinks one of the best ways to improve her students’ learning it to cover up the glare of fluorescent lights.
“According to research, a significant percentage of elementary age students experience visual difficulties, which can lead to behavioral and academic difficulties,” writes Kozelski in her request. “Fluorescent lights can cause headaches, anxiety, and fidgety behavior. However, fluorescent light covers immediately reduce all of these ailments and issues, making it possible for students to engage at a high level.”
4. $306 to escape the existential despair of a sad life
Mrs. Clark at North Charleston High School wants more books for her library. That’s hardly an exceptional request, but what makes it stands out is her explanation for why the books are necessary: to allow her students a brief respite from sad, sad lives.
“Life has a way of rearing its ugly head on occasion,” she says. “Many of my students have had difficult lives. They are able to lose themselves in a great book. My students enjoy reading books as an escape from everyday life.”
Fittingly, most of the books Clark chooses to “help them escape their lives” are fantasies of one form of another, such as Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy.
5. $1312 for therapy balls
Ms. Luellen in Ladson says that buying 24 sand-filled Stay N Place balls to use as chairs will dramatically improve her student’s focus.
“Students need movement in the classroom so that they can focus and learn,” writes Luellen. “We expect them to sit at their desk and listen. Just a little movement on the balls will help them focus. I feel that the students will enjoy coming to class even more than they do right now because their classroom will be different and more exciting. The students who have problems being still will be able to move freely at their desk with the balls.”
6. $220 to make crepes
Ms. Muldrow at Lake City High School wants to spice up her French class by offering her students some French cuisine. Many students, she says, have never heard of crepes until coming into her class.
“Instead of looking at crepes in a book or watching them being made on an educational video, students can experience making and tasting them for themselves,” writes Muldrow. “When students see crepes in restaurants and grocery stores, on TV, or even in their own homes they will think about the French culture and it’s [sic] influence on food (and many other areas of life).
7. $2122 for fake food
Mrs. Watson at the Garrett Academy of Technology, on the other hand, thinks her students eat plenty of crepes already, and should try eating healthier foods instead.
“My students eat ‘junk,’ every day, all day long!” says Watson. “School lunch isn’t usually very ‘creative,’ and typically caters to the ‘popular’ foods teens eat: fried chicken, burgers, pizza, fries, etc.”
To fix things, Watson wants to buy thousands of dollars in replica food items (such as this $6 strip of bacon) so that her students can use them to practice building healthy meals.
“Food portion sizes are grossly distorted! Being able to touch the models and create meals will be helpful,” she says.
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