Jackson Black and Christian Davenport (from left) play with Lego bricks during a break in the school day. Their teacher, Hannah Berry, hopes the community supports her project to fund blocks for the first-grade classroom at Ranger Elementary/Middle School. Photo by SAMANTHA SINCLAIR

SCOUTING AROUND: Classes need help with projects

    Tis the season for giving, but sometimes it can be difficult to determine the best place to make a monetary charitable donation.
    Four Cherokee County teachers have projects on DonorsChoose.org in need of funding. The projects supplement local students’ education in what is considered a “highest poverty” area.
    The deadline to raise funds for all the projects are fast approaching, and projects are only funded if the goal is met. Donors, as the name of the site suggests, can choose any project and any amount they wish to give.
    To find all the Cherokee County projects, type the zip code 28906 in the search box on DonorsChoose.org. Here are the projects.

iPads for hands-on projects
    Students in Stephanie Hopper’s class at The Learning Center charter school in Murphy would benefit from four iPads that would update the technology in the classroom.
    In her class of 20 students, 12 are considered exceptional children, dealing with issues like autism, severe learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and opposition defiance disorder.
    “Despite these challenges, the children love to be actively engaged in their learning,” Hopper wrote in her project description. “The children are very curious, and love to do research, and learn more (dig deeper), but unfortunately our technology is limited and outdated.”
    Not only will the iPads allow the students to create hands-on projects, but the devices will help students practice skills in math and literacy, she said.
    This project is the most urgent, as it expires Thursday. The goal is to raise $2,093 to purchase the four iPads.

Blocks for first grade
    Hannah Berry is requesting a set of blocks for her first grade students at Ranger Elementary/Middle School. This is her first time trying DonorsChoose.org, and she had seen other teachers use it successfully to fund their projects.
    “I thought I would give it a try,” she said.
    Her classroom doesn’t have many hands-on activities, which are great for when the students cannot go outside to play and get that break from school work.
    “The academic part of first grade has gotten so demanding,” Berry said. “They also need time to play.”
    The few items she does have were purchased with her classroom funds.
    In her project description, Berry said she wishes to use the blocks as a tool to ease the transition from kindergarten to first grade. The project supports 17 students, with a goal of raising $1,192 by Thursday, Dec. 22.

Fitness challenge for special needs
    Murphy Middle School teacher Rachel Payne is planning a healthy living unit for the spring and hopes the fundraising website can help her class once again. She has had 11 projects funded over the years, and hopes anyone looking to make charitable donations at this time of year considers her class of students with disabilities.
    “Exercise can be a challenge for some of my students, and for many people in general, but walking is something most people can do,” she said.
    The playground that was previously funded has helped her students as well as activities provided by coach Thomas Nelson. She wants to start a fitness challenge to help her students build more awareness for taking care of their bodies.
    Payne plans to fit each of her eight students with pedometers and give each a water bottle. The students with the most steps and who drink the most water will receive a prize at the end of each day. She also plans to provide her students with strengthening exercises each day.
    “The pedometers just seemed like the next step,” Payne said.
    “My students are learning that aerobic activities are one kind of exercise, and strengthening is the other type.”
    The students are also learning to make healthier food choices, which is why she included the water goal for the students.
    The project to purchase pedometers, dumbbells, resistance bands and water bottles expires Saturday, Jan. 7. The goal is to raise $684.

Lego Maker Space for library
    The media specialist at Murphy Middle School, Gail Hubbard, hopes to fund a project that would bring a Lego Maker Space to the school’s library.
    “Maker Spaces is one way that the library can help develop new ways of looking at the world,” Hubbard wrote in the project description.
    She is creating spaces in the library where students can experiment and problem solve, then display their projects. She already has some Lego bricks that were donated, but wants to add complete sets, as well as base plates.
    The total cost for the project benefiting 300 students is $685. The deadline is Sunday, Jan. 22.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.