The Republic is helping raise money for for Wishes for Teachers, an initiative that will give $5,000 grants to as many teachers as possible, no strings attached. Last year, 100 teachers received a grant through the program. With your help, we’ll do more this year.
How can you help? There are three ways to donate: text “wishlist” to 51555; fill out the online donation form at wishes.azcentral.com; or clip and mail us the coupon on 4A of The Republic. Here’s how some of last year’s grant recipients used the money to boost STEM efforts.
Learning 3-D printing at Sahuarita High School
Terry Bettis knows her students are using technology now more than ever.
“It’s a fact that technology engages students. It’s a part of their life,” she said. “That’s where kids are at right now.”
That’s why the library media specialist wanted to create a maker space at her school. Bettis started teaching at Sahuarita High School last year and came in knowing she wanted to get students “discovering and exploring.” She previously taught in Iowa where she was also a mentor for her school’s robotics club. Here in Arizona, she wanted to continue promoting STEM learning.
“When I interviewed for this position, the principal and I were on the same page,” she said. “I wanted to incorporate tech and maker spaces and we’re just starting to get off the ground.”
Bettis created the maker space last year though means were “limited.” However, she was able to grow the space and the group with the grant she received through the Wishes for Teachers program.
With the $5,000, Bettis was able to purchase a 3-D printer, various project kits, books about engineering and STEM career opportunities and more. She said students can be found using the maker space all throughout the day.
“That has really gotten a lot of increased interest. We started out with six or seven kids and now we have more than 25,” she said. “We’ve even started a cross-curricular 3-D printing business.”
Bettis said their first customer was the school’s principal, who wanted the group to design and create a teacher of the month trophy using the printer. As the facilitator helping with the equipment, “I’m picking up the technology right along with them.” However, she joked that the students are “better at using it than I am. They probably know more than I do.”
Bettis hopes the space will continue to grow and pique interest from students, as well as incorporate various classes allowing them to work on projects using the 3-D printer.
“It’s been amazing, I’d definitely consider us a success story. Hopefully the interest will continue. We’ll keep promoting it and keep the energy high.” she said. “If we continue to get new equipment, that’s amazing. For now, we kind of have a means for hopefully sustaining our group.”
The whole school benefits at Prescott High
Math teacher Alvina Green of Prescott High School also used her grant to buy a 3-D printer, among other items.
“My wish was to promote STEM projects within our school,” she said. “I … wanted something to benefit our whole school. My colleagues have all been able to utilize it for math, science, English.”
Green said she ran across an advertisement for the program online and figured she, her colleagues or her daughter Baily Wellman, a teacher at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, would benefit.
When Wellman received her grant, Green said she was “thrilled. She used the money to purchase flexible seating for her classroom. Three days later, Green became a recipient herself.
“(The printer’s) been a great asset to our school,” she said. “This has been giving them (students) motivation to do other things other than just pass school. They’re actually setting goals to better themselves.”
Green also said the printer has inspired a new science lab class at her school called STEM Engineering.
No longer paying out-of-pocket at Houston Elementary
Like Green and Bettis, Sheri Pierce wants to boost STEM learning at her school. Before receiving her grant last year, Pierce said she was buying items to do this with her own money. She had hopes of creating an after-school STEM club and had made a wishlist of additional items she would like to buy.
The club became a reality last year when Pierce became a recipient of the Wishes for Teachers grant.
Pierce, a science and math teacher at Houston Elementary School in Gilbert, said she wanted to help give students opportunities to use coding and STEM in different ways. The club works on various experiments, such as simulating the digestive system, creating UV bracelets and making shade structures.
The activities help students understand concepts outside of the classroom.
Wishes for Teachers
What it is: A fundraising effort to provide $5,000 grants to teachers through random drawings.
How to apply: Teachers can fill out the online form with their information and a description of their wish at: wishesforteachers.org through Nov. 3.
How to donate: Text ‘wishlist’ to 51555 or use the online donation form. The donation period runs from Sept. 24 to Nov. 3.
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