Teacher-founded online charity gives THMS staffer a boost

By Tanya Mitchell | Sep 18, 2012
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell Sadie Kelleter, a clinical social worker who serves students at Troy Howard Middle School, recently secured funding for books through donorschoose.org. At center is THMS Principal Kim Buckheit, and at right is Horace Mann Agent Chuck Lynch, who presented Buckheit with an additional $250 worth of vouchers for more classroom supplies.

Belfast — Sadie Kelleter, a clinical social worker who serves students at Troy Howard and Searsport District middle schools, was formerly using photocopied pages to help teach her students about social skills and strategies.

Kelleter visits both RSU 20 middle schools weekly and works with small groups of students who, she said, struggle with behavior and other issues. THMS Principal Kim Buckheit said Kelleter's service to the students addresses issues that often prevent them from performing well in the classroom.

Tuesday, Sept. 18, Kelleter, Buckheit and Chuck Lynch, an agent with the insurance company Horace Mann, met with members of the local media in a small office at THMS. The meeting was intended to call attention to Kelleter's success in securing funding for two graphic novel-style books she needed for her students, and to let other local educators know that they, too, can obtain supplies for their classrooms in the same fashion.

Lynch said Kelleter, like many other teachers across the country, posted her fund-raising project at donorschoose.org. The site is a teacher-founded charity that allows educators to present their classroom needs to the site's viewers in hopes of obtaining the necessary funding to cover the costs of specific classroom materials.

Lynch said Horace Mann, an insurance company dedicated to providing various services to the country's educators, is one of many corporations that regularly support projects posted to the site.

"What we've learned through our partnership with donorschoose.org is that teachers, on average, spend about $40 a month of their own money on supplies for their classroom," said Lynch.

In Kelleter's case, she needed copies of books for her students that focus on social behaviors and strategies, books that typically cost about $20 each. Kelleter said she had one copy of the books she needed, and in order for the students to follow along with the lesson, she distributed photocopies of the pages she was referring to.

"It's not the same as seeing the real book," said Kelleter. "The kids will be pretty excited."

Kelleter's donorschoose.org project — which resulted in the donation of more than $500 to cover the cost of 10 copies of "You are a social detective" and another 10 copies of "Superflex takes on Glassman and the Team of Unthinkables" — obtained all of its funding from Starbucks. But Lynch said there are many options not only for corporations, but also individuals, to support educator projects with the click of a mouse.

Individual donors can go to the donroschoose.org site, select the project they wish to support, and then contribute as much or as little as they can.

And beginning Oct. 1, Lynch said, his company will provide a dollar-for-dollar match for all who use the promotional code "Horace Mann 12" when they check out.

"We're also stepping up to the plate and donating as well," said Lynch, who then handed over an additional $250 worth of vouchers to Buckheit that can be used to purchase classroom supplies.

Buckheit said the vouchers will make a difference at THMS, especially this year.

"Many of our [budget] lines are already in the red," she said.

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