Today is Inauguration Day in America.
It’s a day that the majority of the American population is unhappy about — the person being sworn in as the country’s leader didn’t earn the popular vote. His stances on everything from women’s health to LGBTQIA+ rights, to stripping healthcare, to building a literal wall between two countries and more are not what the majority wanted.
But technicalities. We get it. That’s how he won and that’s how he’ll continue to do things like avoid paying taxes or releasing that information to the American public.
What can we do as citizens, though? This is the question we’ve been mulling over since the Electoral College declared the winner.
Angie Manfredi, back in November, had a great idea. She found a few classrooms on Donors Choose that needed more money to be funded. These were for literacy-related projects serving children in schools that were of highest poverty.
In other words: the kinds of kids and classrooms most likely to be hurt by the incoming administration. The kinds of kids and classrooms that deserve to have access to basic tools to make them stronger, smart, and feel like they’re a part of this country.
That they, too, belong.
Leila and I joined in with Angie, as did a number of other wonderful bloggers, librarians, and authors, sharing classrooms we’d found with our respective social networks. None of us kept strong track, but the combined power we had and the generosity of people in the book/reading/library/teaching/publishing world meant we were able to fund a whole lot of classrooms.
And those teachers, as well as those students, were grateful.
We could think of no better way to respond to the Inauguration and changeover in America’s political world than to put together a big list of classrooms we’d like to get funded today. But more specifically, we sought out a range of classrooms in different parts of the country that were seeking project funding relating to English as a Second Language (ESL) and second language learning more broadly.
Can we do this? Let’s do this. Even a $1 donation to one classroom moves the marker a little bit closer. It’s a reminder to the future generations, as well as to the educators in those classrooms and passionate about their students, that they matter. That they deserve to learn and that they are welcome in this country, despite what the government might say or do. Leila and I have pulled together 12 classroom projects. If you click through, you can read a full description of what the money will go toward. We’ve offered up the short explanation, along with a link. The first of these projects expires tomorrow, January 21, so let’s get them funded first, then carry on down the line.
It might not be much, but it certainly does something. And in a situation where so many of us feel powerless, this is an easy opportunity to take action.
Feel free to share this list widely. Even if you can’t make a contribution, any sharing will help tremendously. Let’s get these classrooms funded.
(Fair warning: some of these stories will break your heart.)
Starting A Collection of Books In Spanish! in Morris, MN (this campaign ends tomorrow—let’s fund it first!):
We are a smaller rural community that has a rapidly growing population of Hispanics. Our students are incredibly smart and the main goal is for them to realize the many opportunities that they have and how they can grow as individuals to make a difference in the world we live in. If no one encourages them or provides materials they need to do this; how will that ever happen? They come from all different backgrounds and cultures – we need a library collection to match!
Fueling Bilingual Brains! in Chapel Hill, NC:
My students are eager bilingual learners. They come from Mexico, El Salvador, the U.S., and a myriad other places around the world. The majority of them have free or reduced-price lunch plans. These students have warm hearts and friendly smiles.
They are thirsty for knowledge and grow visibly every day.
In addition to learning a second language (English or Spanish), the students engage in project-based learning. They work hard every day in class to achieve high levels of learning, and then spend an extra hour in school to help them shore up whatever they need help with.
Bilingual Books for School and Home in New Bedford, MA:
My students live in a high poverty, urban area. They go to a community school where every child receives free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of our students live in public housing, with relatives, or are homeless. Many of my students are second language learners. Many of the children do not have their needs met at home. This is often due to lack of finances, long work days, and everyday stress.
My students are excited to come to school and crave the routine of our school day.
One of the main focuses of our school is to integrate the arts into learning.
Kids Read First! Continued, in Lewiston, ME:
Imagine moving to a new country. You walk into a classroom full of new faces, immersed in a language you have never spoken.You have a happy, smiling teacher talking to you in a language you don’t understand. These are the students I teach and work with every day.
I work in a school where English Language Learners are more than half of the student population.
My students come into school every day as not only a place to learn, but a place to eat, be surrounded with friends, and more importantly, feel safe.
My school is also a Title I school in central Maine, where 100 percent of our students receive free breakfast, lunch, and snack. We help students learn English while holding on to their own language as well. My students have come from different countries in Africa, from many different and difficult situations. They are in need of the tools to make them successful in the classroom, and this all begins with a determined teacher and a vast amount of literacy rich resources.
My Future Leaders Need My Attention! in Yuma, AZ:
My 6th grade ELL class are very special to me. As a first year teacher, I have developed an attachment that makes me hungry to connect with them to get them to reach for the stars and beyond. They are not only struggling to learn the English language, but fight battles outside school in order to get ahead. Most of the students, have their parents in Mexico, and at times see them only once a week. Imagine being 11 and 12 year old separated from your parents in whom you depend on!
Everyday I tell my students they are “Tomorrow Leaders.” These 6th graders need my full support and attention to encourage them not to give up.
They also need reassurance from the school faculty, community and their family members. We are their armor, and with these tools, they will continue to fight upcoming battles to win this war.
Language is a barrier in my class, as I also have 2 Arabic students from Yemen, who have no idea how to put on this armor that the school has provided. Resources are needed but I feel the attention of a teacher is a powerful tool that can benefit each student.
Graphic Novels to Reach Success in English!, in Jamaica, NY:
My students are English Language Learners who speak Spanish, Bengali, Arabic and Urdu. They are eager to develop as readers and love to read books with visuals and graphics. We are located in Jamaica Queens and this is the second year we exist as a school.
The picture of our school shows a window of opportunity, we believe all of students will have the best opportunities if they believe in themselves.
Our students engage in Science, Technology, Art, Engineering and Math on a weekly basis.
Teach in Color, in Houston, TX:
I am a second grade ESL teacher in a Dual Language program. This school year, my content area is English and Math. Most of my students have been learning English and Spanish since kindergarten! Many of my students’ native language is Spanish.
My students work diligently everyday to learn both English and Spanish.
As an ESL teacher, I should provide several visual cues for English words and vocabulary. Pictures should be in color, but I do not have a color printer or ink to provide a visual-rich environment.
To Read is to Live More Than One Life, in Oxon Hill, MD:
I teach a beautiful, lively bunch of English language learners that are at every level of English language acquisition. Many of them have faced so much transition in their young lives and yet they come to ESOL class every day with a smile for me.
Our purpose is clear; to give them every opportunity to gain the skills to be successful in the 21st century world.
Our school is a Title I school and we just got a program for autism. The children bring a wide rage of needs both academically and personally.
Non-Fiction Knock-Out!, in Salt Lake City, UT:
My students arrive at our “highly impacted” Title 1 school like kids all over the country: eager to learn and joyful at recess.
The difference is that many of their families struggle with food insecurity, unemployment, and providing the basic necessities of clothing and shelter.
For most, school is the very best part of their day. All the students in my resource classroom have IEPs (Individual Education Programs) based on their abilities and need specialized and differentiated instruction to achieve grade level competence.
Help Support our International and ESL Students, in Falls Church, VA:
Being a small district — we do not have many built-in supports for students who are considered ESL/ESOL. We need to be able to support learners of all backgrounds and need materials to help with that. These supplies will allow for one-on-one instruction as well as small group and collaborative instruction to support the whole learner. Because we live, work, and learn in the Digital Age, we need materials that will help students from all backgrounds succeed in a digital world.
Before There Was Google Translate…We Used Dictionaries!, in Bayside, NY:
What better way to welcome someone to America than by extending a helping hand!
Can you imagine trying to read a 7th grade text when you are reading on a first grade level?
That is what my students are trying to do every day.
All of my students are newcomers (in the U.S.A less than a year), or beginners (speaking English at a beginning level). Our school resides in the beautiful town of Bayside, where we have a large Chinese population and a growing Hispanic population. In my ESL class we consider ourselves a “family”. My students feel they can come to me with any problem they may encounter. I consider my ESL classroom a safe place for learning and growing.
First Generation English Readers, in Santa Maria, CA:
My students are humbled by and appreciative of the little things. Many of them do not own books at home. They are fascinated with new books and love to be in our class library. School wide, 95% of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch. I have 48 students I see daily and 46 of them are are English Learners.
My students absolutely love learning to read and take AR tests.
We have created a college bound atmosphere and my students are building a foundation that will help prepare them for their future. I am humbled to be a part of their educational journey.