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‘Adopted’ classrooms help teachers, students

By Trana Addel

The Adopt-a-Classroom program of the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF)  helps teachers and classes win money to get crucial school supplies needed that year. They are chosen by donors who request a class and a teacher who the donors want to sponsor.

Classrooms have been getting adopted for the past 14 years. “The Adopt-a-Classroom program was founded in March 2000 by the Bank of Alameda as a way of soliciting businesses to support Alameda classrooms,” said Vicki Sedlack, executive director of AEF, via an email interview.

In the first year of the program, donors adopted 33 teachers. Last year, they adopted 169 classrooms. As of November, AEF has adopted 142 classrooms this year, and their goal is to reach 170 adoptions by the end of this school year, according to the AEF website.

“Since the inception of Adopt A Classroom, we have adopted 1,227 teachers and distributed $627,213 to them,” said Sedlack.  “One other note is that AEF gives 100% of each Adopt A Classroom donation to teachers; we keep nothing for expenses, such as supplies or administrative costs.”

Sedlack said that Bank of Alameda originally partnered with the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) so that donations could be tax-deductible (since AEF is a nonprofit), but the program is now solely managed and run by AEF.

According to the AEF website, “The Alameda Education Foundation directs Adopt A Classroom donations to teachers not yet adopted as determined by need, or donors may request a particular teacher or program for adoption.”

This helps teachers get the essentials needed to head into a successful school year.

The idea behind Adopt A Classroom is “twofold,” said Sedlack. “First, we learned that teachers on average spend a lot of their own money to purchase essential materials and supplies for their classrooms.  The average amount a teacher spends of his/her own money annually is $513.  Hence, our Adopt A Classroom program gives funds to teachers in the amount of $500 to address this issue,” she explained.

“The other benefit of Adopt A Classroom is that teachers can spend the money however they want to best benefit their classroom,” Sedlack added.  “They may need general supplies or wish to build a class library or go on a field trip – AEF leaves it up to them to use the money however they wish with no strings attached.”

Science teacher Yong Joo’s classroom was adopted last November.

“About $150 went to the biology teacher, Mr. Hardin, who needed to replace special parts of a microscope that the district did not allow him to buy,” said Joo. He also added, “I went to Home Depot to buy physics materials with the rest of the money.”

“It it is really nice to have unrestricted funds, because the school district won’t let unrestricted funds to happen,” Joo said.

US History teacher Marc Ramirez’s class was also adopted last school year.

“I bought seven large posters of maps.  They were $508.71. I hang them in my classroom; I use them all the time,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez said with excitement, “It is nice for students to see where their family comes from. I refer to my maps all the time when I’m teaching my sheltered class.” Sheltered classes are those in which the classroom teacher incorporates teaching strategies for students whose first language is something other than English.

Ramirez asked the students what they wanted to happen with money. “The students wanted to have a party, but I wanted to buy the maps. I gave them their party, but I used my own money for that.”

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