Helena community adopts classrooms

Published 10:32 am Friday, August 21, 2009

It’s expensive to be a teacher. There’s always a need for updated educational materials and extra basic necessities, and with today’s lower educational budgets, sometimes educators are left paying out of pocket.

In Helena, however, some educators have found help.

Helena business owner Judy Ellington recently got several Helena teachers involved with Adopt-a-Classroom, a program in which parents, grandparents or community members can donate directly to a specific classroom online.

“I’m a business owner, and my kids have already gone through school. I don’t have a dog on this fight. I sure would like to give the children of this community the same opportunity that my children had when they went to school,” Ellington said. “Without these funds for the teachers’ classrooms, they don’t get the instructional materials they need.”

On the first day teachers at Helena Elementary and Helena Middle came back to work after summer vacation, Ellington met with them to discuss Adopt-a-Classroom. She said the teachers were amazed – both at the program and at her.

“Because I don’t have a child at the school, it’s hard for people to believe you want to do something for the school,” she said. “I just want to make sure the teachers are taken care of.”

In Adopt-a-Classroom, 100 percent of donated funds go to a specific classroom. Cash does not go to the teachers; instead, resources are purchased online using the donation. Adopt-a-Classroom then sends donors reports detailing exactly what the teacher purchased for complete accountability. Donations are also tax-deductible.

“If a teacher gets $100 in donations, she gets to spend $100,” Ellington said.

Ellington said 24 teachers are registered at the elementary school, and two of those classrooms have been adopted and have received a total of $350. At the middle school, seven teachers have registered.

Scott Knight, assistant principal at Helena Middle, said the program is just another way his teachers can try to get the help they need.

“It means a lot to our school, especially in a year of proration, with money being tight,” he said. “It’s a great thing for our teachers, especially with the economic times that we’re in. It’s really beneficial to them to receive that extra help for their classrooms.”

Helena Intermediate School is also registered at Adopt-a-Classroom, as are several other Shelby County schools.

To donate or sign up a particular classroom, go to Adoptaclassroom.org.