DonorsChoose Pick: Dirty Hands and Engaged Minds in Detroit


The students in Teach For America corps member Katie Rogers’ first-grade classroom at Carleton Elementary School in Detroit are curious, observant, and exploratory in nature. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that they want to learn about plant life cycles—and make their school more beautiful—by growing plants indoors.

“A hands-on experiment will help their minds grow, much like the seeds, beans, and vegetables they will be planting,” Ms. Rogers says.

DonorsChoose Pick: Buggin’ Out in NOLA

DonorsChoose Pick

One subject in particular has captured the interest of Teach For America alumna Ms. Tolbert’s third grade students at KIPP New Orleans Leadership Primary—science!

Throughout the school year, Ms. Tolbert’s students have exhibited a tremendous amount of growth, which she attributes to their love of learning, curiosity, and grit. She hopes to foster even more growth among her students through interactive activity—specifically, a field trip to the Audubon Nature Center in New Orleans.

DonorsChoose Pick: Help Inspire All Types of Learners

DonorsChoose Pick

“Today is a great day for teaching and learning!” These are the encouraging words Teach For America corps member Te Shauna Russell shares with her 3rd grade students each school day at Connally Elementary School in Atlanta.

Ms. Russell works hard to foster a strong sense of community in her classroom through collaborative group projects and peer teaching. She admits her students face numerous challenges outside their classroom—some are even two or more grade levels behind—but despite these challenges her students are hungry to learn.

GoFundMe Pick: Send the “Bear Writers” to Iowa

GoFundMe Pick

Last semester Teach For America corps member Jostna Dash assigned her ninth grade advanced English students Erin Gruwell’s best-selling book, The Freedom Writers Diary, which tells the story of a group of inspiring high school students in California who tackled the battles of living in the inner city.

Though Ms. Dash’s students at East High School are thousands of miles away in Kansas City, MO, they were so inspired by this group of students that they started calling themselves the “Bear Writers” after the school’s mascot, and began writing their own narratives and preparing for college. Additionally, as the Freedom Writers took a trip each year of their high school careers to expand their worldviews, Ms. Dash’s students have set out to do the same.

DonorsChoose Pick: Bring the Joy of Reading to First Graders


Every day Roya Bazaei’s first graders in Oakland curl up with a good book on the classroom floor and practice a new reading skill their teacher has taught them.

Ms. Bazaei, a Teach For America alumna, admits her students aren’t at the point where they can read silently, so she sprinkles her students around the room so they can hear themselves read. It’s also more fun than having to read at their desks. Pick: Preparing for Fourth Grade and Beyond Pick

Maggie Chappel’s classroom at Frank A. Sedita Academy on Buffalo’s west side is equipped with only two desktop computers. The Teach For America corps member and third grade teacher finds it challenging to provide her students with daily access to technology that will enrich their educational experience.

Though her students come from all over the world—Thailand, Myanmar, Ghana, Puerto Rico—they’re all Buffalonians, Ms. Chappel says. They’re also kind, responsible, talented, and resilient, she adds, and the greatest compliment she receives is when her students tell her they want to teach when they grow up. Pick: Let’s Wiggle! Pick

As a reading and writing teacher at Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis, MO, Teach For America alumna Michelle Oyola often requires her students to focus on a certain activity for an extended period of time. She admits, however, even 15 minutes of quiet sitting can be a struggle for her middle school students.

“Our public charter school is special because it has a unique mission and focus,” Mrs. Oyola says. “It provides incredible opportunities [to students] who excel in the arts. This means my classroom is filled with dancers, musicians, actors, and artists. These kids know how to express themselves, especially when it comes to movement!”

DonorsChoose Pick: Help Future Journalists Practice Photography

DonorsChoose Pick of the Week

Ann Richards Middle School journalism teacher and Teach For America alumna Emily Barksdale has a small class with incredible potential. As they’re preparing to apply to attend high schools in Dallas, TX that will affect the trajectories of the rest of their lives, Ms. Barksdale wants to make sure she does all she can to help.

“A huge part of admission to the most prestigious schools requires some sort of work sample or portfolio that they can start in my journalism class,” she says. “All of my students are classified as economically disadvantaged, and they are all racial minorities. So, getting into those schools has a huge effect on the opportunities they’ll be afforded.”