GREAT FALLS — With Montana ranking 32nd in the country in teacher salary, yet 15th highest in amount spent per student, a few teachers in Great Falls needed to find an alternative to spending their own money on classroom supplies and necessities.
Ashley Munden’s most recent grant on DonorsChoose.org reached its goal, leading to the purchase of 80 new books for her classroom library.
This wasn’t the first time she’s used the website to fulfill an educational need, and it won’t be the last. In the past she’s used it for math materials, and she’s seen other educators get funding for everything from pens and pencils to beanbag chairs.
“I have actually used it for a math grant, and I’ve bought math materials for multiplication as well,” Munden said. “I find myself spending a lot of my own money, so DonorsChoose has been a great opportunity for me to get outside resources to help fulfill that.”
Not only is Munden far from the first person at Sunnyside Elementary School to use DonorsChoose, but she’s also much newer to it than some of the other teachers.
“The gal across the hall, she’s actually kind of the DonorsChoose guru,” she said. “She has probably had over 10 grants fulfilled, just by posting them on social media sites.”
“That gal” is fifth grade teacher Julie Delgado. Delgado started using DonorsChoose almost six years ago. She’s gotten 11 grants funded so far, including some for new brain games, bookshelves, and even a Nook eReader to give her students access to a wider range of books.
“There is a need for all kinds of things. We do have a curriculum library, but some of the books that we really like….I was just able to purchase Touching Spirit Bear. It’s no longer available in the curriculum library,” Delgado explained. “Those kinds of things that we see as more and more books become available, we want to keep current, so if the curriculum library is not there for us, then we have this option for us. KRTV with the One Class At A Time grants help out, we try to do like the Karen Cox Memorial Grants, so we’re reaching and trying to get all kinds of funding opportunities to help our kids get what they want and deserve.”
Both Munden and Delgado also took the time to mention how helpful the community has been to them the past couple of years.
They both say that without them, none of this would be possible.
“Huge thank you to our community who is constantly supporting us in other ways besides just coming into the classroom,” said Delgado. “Just donating their money to help whatever project they think is worthy of their money so just thank you for everything.”
You can visit the DonorsChoose site if you would like to support Ashley’s grant or any of the thousands of other grants on their website.