When teacher Nicole Ruprecht set up her classroom for her special education students she included a space for her kids to take sensory breaks.
“I was looking for a clean, safe space where they could do yoga and other movement and take a break from their curriculum,” she recalled.
The “safe space” came easy. But instead of clean, new yoga mats, Ruprecht inherited old ones. To help remedy the situation, local Horace Mann insurance agent Mike Letorney came to the school and introduced Ruprecht and the other teachers at Abigail Adams Middle School in Weymouth to DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit organization that connects teachers who need classroom supplies with donors who want to help.
“Mike said it was easy to post a project and get funding,” says Ruprecht, “and it was. It was similar to applying for a grant. I wrote a little bit about my kids and why the new mats would help my students as well as other students in the school.”
A couple of months later, Ruprecht had two mats valued at over $200 each. Ruprecht is among 54 public school teachers in Norfolk County who have received donations totaling more than $31,700 to fund 74 classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org in the past 12 months.
In metro Boston, 542 public school teachers have received donations totaling more than $381,800 to fund 774 classroom projects.
DonorsChoose.org has been helping teachers get classroom supplies since 2000. Letorney’s company, The Horace Mann Companies, has been a national sponsor since early 2011. “We got involved because it was simply the perfect fit. DonorsChoose.org offered us the power of a well-established, national organization with the ability to help teachers at a local level. There’s nothing better than showing a teacher how they can get the tools they need for their classroom… and showing them how to get them for free.
“The average teacher spends $40 a month on schools supplies for their classroom,” continued Letorney. “How many other professions require you to bring your own tools to the office with you? It’s not fair to the teachers, and it’s really not fair to the kids who benefit when their teachers have everything from crayons and printer ink to the latest in classroom technology… all of which they can get through DonorsChoose.org.”
Right now, Horace Mann is matching donations through its “Imagine a Better Classroom” matching donation campaign. The company will match donations of up to $100 if the donor enters a special promotion code at checkout when making a donation. Full-time public school teachers, nurses and guidance counselors wishing to have projects funded can obtain the code from Letorney and can pass the code along to colleagues, friends, family and other potential donors.
Letorney can be reached at 781-740-8444 or Michael.Letorney@horacemann.com.
“The code enables donors to double the money they donate,” Letorney said. “$5 becomes $10, $20 becomes $40 and $50 doubles to $100. It speeds the time it takes to get projects funded.” Gift cards and corporate donations will not be matched.
Horace Mann is donating $250,000 through “Imagine a Better Classroom,” increasing its total contributions to DonorsChoose.org to more than $1.5 million since February 2011.
The above release was submitted by Betsy Harris, Weymouth Public Schools.