Teacher Appreciation Week: Show love for AISD educators by helping fund their special projects


AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the school year comes to a close, teachers are already beginning to think about the next school year.

Many have big plans for welcoming students back into the classroom after a year of virtual learning.

Take Ms. Phillips at Zilker Elementary for example. She needs new arts and crafts supplies to keep her kids engaged. Or Mr. Cunningham at the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy — he wants to find more challenging books for his shelves to push his high schoolers to think critically. Ms. Dennis at Dawson Elementary has been eying specific toys for her special education students to help them develop their language skills.

While it may seem like a big ask, these wish lists don’t have to be just a fantasy.

Austin ISD secured a partnership with “Donors Choose” — an online fundraising platform. Those who donate to any project of their choosing on Tuesday will be matched 50% by AISD’s public Education Foundation.

“This week in particular, it’s nice to stop and really say ‘thank you’ to our teachers who go above and beyond for our students,” said Michelle Wallis, executive director for AISD’s Austin Ed Fund.

Jeff Hefler, who teaches sixth grade English at Peredes Middle School, has been working to rebuild an outdoor classroom on his campus. He got the idea after searching for safe ways to instruct during the pandemic.

He said while gift cards are a thoughtful gesture, helping him financially accomplish his goal would go a longer way for the success of his entire class.

“I’ve gotten so many Starbucks gift cards, and it’s lovely, and it’s appreciated, but at the same time, I could probably get more use out of something that can work in my classroom,” Hefler said. “It’s been a very turbulent year for teachers and being able to provide them that support and provide them that opportunity certainly goes a long way.”

Reach KXAN’s Education Reporter Alex Caprariello by email at alexc@kxan.com or by phone at 512-703-5365, or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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