Nearly two months ago, we initiated the Swap4Schools campaign to unite the swapping community with teachers and schools in need of books. In that short period of time, the campaign has spread like wildfire across the country, netting thousands of donations in more than 40 states.
The stories that we’ve heard from teachers and educators so far have been extremely heartening. Last month we profiled Deborah Michaud, an educator from Fitchburg, Massachusetts who contacted our CEO Jeff Bennett within the first week of the program.
An enthusiastic tweet about the program brought Swapper of the Month for March Jamie Beal to our attention. A middle school math teacher from Alton, Illinois, and a long-time swapper, Ms. Beal has created a class website www.missbeal.com to promote interactive learning in the classroom.
We reached out to her to find a little bit more about her experience with Swap4schools.
Hi Jamie. Where and what do you teach? How long have you been a teacher?
Jamie Beal: I teach 8th grade Algebra and Pre-Algebra at Alton Middle School in Alton, IL. The 2010-2011 school year marks my third year of teaching.
What’s your favorite thing about being a teacher?
JB: My favorite part of being a teacher is being able to share my enthusiasm for math and learning with my students. I push my 8th graders to try new things and challenge them with difficult problems, yet we have a lot of fun while doing it! I love seeing my students work really hard and succeed when doing so. I recently had students memorize digits of pi for Pi Day (March 14th) and had 3 students memorize 67 digits, 90 digits and 112 digits!! That was definitely an awesome day to be their math teacher.
How did you hear about the Swap4Schools initiative?
JB: I am already a member of swap.com so when Swap4Schools was added, I saw it right away. I created a Swap4Schools account and began telling everyone I knew about it!
How many donations did you receive? What have been some of your favorite donations that you’ve received so far?
JB: So far I have received 102 donations in the mail, with more on the way. My favorite donations are the books my students are waiting to receive. The students add the books to our “want list” and the day that their book arrives in the mail they are SO excited. My bookshelf that used to not get much attention now has books flying off of it. It’s a great thing when you can hear a pin drop in class because all the students are engrossed in a book of their choice.
What’s the impact been like for this program in your classroom?
JB: Since I teach math, I use the books donated for our “Flex” period. This class is similar to a study hall but is more flexible for students to work on things they need to work on or get help with from a teacher. On Tuesdays and Thursdays for the first 20 minutes in Flex, we Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.). I started this with my coworkers because all of our students have to read for Accelerated Reader and because I too enjoy getting a break to read for 20 minutes. I try to lead by example with everything I do and if I want my kids to read for 20 minutes, I sit down and open a book along with them.
Swap4Schools has given my students books to read that they actually WANT to read. Just getting mail for our classroom gets our students excited….over BOOKS!! Who knew, right?! Since I have shared Swap4Schools with my coworkers, Alton Middle School has received donations of over 500 books in the past month. That is 500 more books in our students’ hands that weren’t there before Swap4Schools. I have some students who used to complain about reading that are now the ones excited when a new book arrives and that itself is a success!
What do you think the possibilities of a program like this are – For schools, for students, and for others?
JB: The possibilities are endless with a program like Swap4Schools. Libraries could be made solely on donations whether they are classroom libraries or school libraries. Also, classrooms could receive class sets of books to use. For example, my coworker Kate Page is trying to get a class set of the book Night to use in her Social Studies classroom. She put it on her “want list” and so did a few other coworkers. So far we have given her all of our donations and she is up to 12 Night books! By the end of this school year hopefully she will have up to 32 copies of Night to incorporate into her curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year.
Along with the book donations, since Swap offers cds, video games and dvds to donate as well, these things could be helpful for many different types of classrooms. Our P.E. class has a Wii for fitness games so new workout video game donations could be really helpful. Also, my coworker incorporates music into his Language Arts lessons on Fridays so cd donations could benefit his classroom as well. Since teachers spend so much of their own money on supplies for their classroom, any donation helps! This is why Swap4Schools is so awesome!
Behind each donation, is a great story and we aim to let those stories be heard. If you’re a teacher, librarian, administrator or a donor who wants to tell you’re Swap4Schools story, we’d love to hear them. You can write them in the comments below, or share them on our Facebook Wall.