With help from Farmers Insurance, AdoptAClassroom.org and Sheryl Crow surprised every Kennett High School teacher with a $600 classroom adoption in February. Check out the impact this surprise had in one science teacher’s classroom.
Michelle McMullan teaches Chemistry at Kennett High School in Missouri. Her chemistry classroom’s budget is approximately $2,000, which isn’t nearly as much as it seems.
“It sounds like a lot until you look through one of the catalogs to buy chemicals,” said Michelle. “It goes very quickly because those aren’t things you can reuse. I have 120 chemistry students that need new chemical supplies every year.”
About a fourth of Michelle’s annual budget goes towards new lab equipment, while the rest is spent on chemicals and lab supplies. Her classroom lab is very old, so she’s working to rebuild it piece by piece. In the last couple of years, Michelle has purchased a goggles sanitizer and storage center, as well as a drying oven. For those two pieces of equipment alone, Michelle spent $1,000.
According to Michelle, between 70 to 75 percent of Kennett High School students qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that teachers, like Michelle, supply many of these students with school supplies they can’t afford. As she needs all of her classroom budget for chemicals, lab supplies, and equipment, Michelle uses money out of her pocket to buy her students basic classroom materials.
Michelle spends $500 to $700 of her own money each year to purchase classroom supplies like pencils, paper, note cards, highlighters, distilled water, Germ-X, and tissues. If Michelle didn’t supply these materials, a lot of her students would have to go without classroom necessities.
“I see first-hand the struggle that they have at home financially,” said Michelle. “It becomes a very easy decision to just keep purchasing those things that we need.”
Michelle purchased an iPad for her classroom with her surprise $600 donation. “We are working on integrating technology, so it was a good opportunity to make a purchase that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do through our regular budget,” said Michelle.
Michelle now uses the iPad to help students who are having trouble grasping certain chemistry lessons and concepts. Using the science specific apps, she gives students extra help by presenting information in a more interactive way.
“There are always going to be some students who need a little more help,” she said. “I can pull those students back, either individually or in a group of two or three, while the others are working, and not have to leave my classroom.”
Like many teachers, Michelle doesn’t want to stay stationary for the duration of her class period. By connecting the iPad to her smartboard, she can stream her lesson and move around the room while teaching. Her students were excited to have a new piece of technology integrated into their classroom exercises.
“They think any new technology is fun,” said Michelle. “It’s different from an everyday worksheet; it presents the same information but in a more interesting way to them.”
When the Kennett High School teachers received their $600 adoption, they were empowered to spend the funds on whatever they felt their classrooms needed. Michelle believes that it’s important to let the teachers choose the supplies that they think are necessary for their classroom. “This is our second home,” said Michelle. “We know these classrooms and our students’ needs better than anyone else.”
Michelle is confident that an iPad was the right purchase to make with her adoption funds. “I knew when I purchased the iPad how I wanted to use it in my classroom; I didn’t have to assume how someone else wanted me to use it,” she said. “I can’t make that decision for someone else and I don’t think anyone else should be making that decision for me. Knowing those needs of our individual classrooms, I think is the reason teachers should be able to choose their purchases.”
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