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DonorsChoose.org website raises money for west central Minn. school projects

Luke Trebil, a third-grader at ACGC North Elementary in Atwater, reads aloud Wednesday during his class reading period at the school. Trebil's teacher is using a fundraising website in hopes of enhancing the reading materials she can utilize in class. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)1 / 2
Third-grader Lily Wattnem takes her turn reading aloud during class Wednesday at ACGC North Elementary in Atwater. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)2 / 2

ATWATER -- Teacher Katie Ruter sat on a stool in front of her class, listening while the third-graders took turns reading aloud from a story about a man who collected rocks.

They had just finished learning new vocabulary words and discussed the difference between biographies and autobiographies. They talked about what it means to be unique and what it might mean when someone told the man that he had "rocks in your head."

Ruter said her students at Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City's North Elementary School in Atwater work hard at their reading, but some struggle with it. She would like to get a set of short stories and novels with CDs for each, and four individual CD players the kids can use.

However, in these days of tight school budgets, there's little funding for extras.

So Ruter posted a request on www.DonorsChoose.org, a website dedicated to raising money for schools. Other teachers in the area have posted their own requests for a variety of items ranging from ukuleles to a large rug for a kindergarten room. Reading instruction materials are a popular request.

Ruter's request, posted in October, totals $530.27, and she has received one donation of $25 so far. Her request will expire in about a month.

Donors can choose projects by type or by location. Judging by comments left by donors, some donate to the schools their children or grandchildren attend, some to schools they attended and some to teachers they know. Others make their donations to certain types of projects.

Ruter said she knows teachers who have had good luck with the website, and she decided to give it a try. She likes the idea that the program keeps teachers in touch with donors, so that they can see how their donations have helped students.

"My budget each year would never allow for me to be able to purchase such an expensive set of reading equipment along with all my necessary materials for regular curriculum," Ruter said.

Using the read-along books and CDs should help her students by allowing them to follow along with the CD to learn new words and aid their comprehension, Ruter said. She expects her current class and classes in the future to use the equipment every day during independent reading time.

The individual players will allow students to continue learning on their own while she is working with others.

During her four years of teaching, Ruter said, she has collected a growing library of books for her classroom. The set of books and CDs she wants to purchase will be a good complement to what she's already doing.

If this first request is successful, she said, she has others in mind for the future.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340
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