I am a grant writing masta!

I’m getting a new digital camera!

Ok, so that’s not entirely true. The newspaper staff I advise is getting a new camera. There’s a good chance I won’t even get to use it. Especially since my kids will no doubt be fighting over who gets to use the new camera and who gets stuck with our crappy old ones. I’m guessing the photo editor will win out, although she’s not exactly a great photographer, or editor for that matter. She probably could be if she spent more time at school. But that’s another matter entirely.

I’m particularly excited about this camera because we don’t even have to spend any of our meager fundraising money to get it. Instead, we can save that to attend a journalism day at the local college and maybe this summer I’ll actually get to send an editor or two to journalism camp (geekier than say basketball camp, but not quite as geeky as band camp–fewer hook-ups from what I hear too…band kids are geeky and slutty). The new camera is courtesy of a local non-profit educational foundation and my amazing ability to make our situation sound absolutely pathetic.

It wasn’t much of an exaggeration. At one point we had four cameras. One of them was a fairly top-of-the-line digital camera with all kinds of amazing features. The pictures that camera took were amazing! Unfortunately when I left on maternity leave, it decided it needed a new home too. I have no idea if one of my staff members absconded with it, or if they left it in the computer lab and someone else decided to take it with them, but when I came back it was gone and no one seemed to have a clue as to where it’d gone. There were several accusations and a few muttered words, but sadly, no camera.

So we started this year with three cameras. One of them is at least five years old. It was a hand me down from our old yearbook teacher when the yearbook company gave her a brand new Canon Rebel. On today’s market, I would probably have to pay someone to take it off my hands. Even head shots come off fuzzy if the photographer’s hand shakes slightly. One of my kids tried to take track pictures. I had five lovely blurs of color and five head shots that look a bit like a painting by Dali.

The other two cameras are identical. They were refurbished and given to me by one of the tech guys. They are just about small enough to fit in my pocket and about as useful as my camera phone which also fits in my pocket. I should say one of them fits in my pocket. The other one is in several different pieces now. A student left it under the bleachers after a basketball game and when they were closed up, it went smash. Sigh….

So I wrote a grant for a nice, new, shiny camera that will actually take sports pictures and pictures in low light and low and behold, I got it. I’d forgotten today was the day the grants were awarded. Luckily one of my co-workers (who also put in for a grant but was denied) called to see if I’d gotten mine. The email was waiting and I couldn’t help smiling when I saw the congrats.* Now I get a new camera and get to go to a snazy banquet for a free dinner where I will be recognized for my sheer awesomeness!

Until this year I’d never written a grant proposal. My first two tries have been a success. Not only am I getting a new camera, but last week several boxes arrived containing all sorts of fun word games to help my students with vocabulary enrichment. I didn’t think I’d actually get those books. I filled the application out mostly for the practice. A friend had gotten a grant to help with her arts program, so I figured maybe someone might want to help with some fun language activities. Turns out, someone did. I now have two different word games, Mad Libs, crossword puzzles, story starters, Wordukus and rebus’ waiting for my students to try out and have fun with.

The cool thing about the second grant is that it’s part of a large network any teacher can submit to. It’s called Donors Choose and the websites helps people interested in donating to educational causes find projects they are interested in. You can search for schools in your area or just search for projects in a specific area (literature, science, math, art). You can even fund curricular projects (like mine) or extra-curricular (like the really super, amazingly nice camera we could never possibly afford that I have $50 donated to so far–hint, hint). You can fund all or part of a project. When you donate and the project gets funded, the teacher recieves the materials and then sends back thank yous from his/her class as well as pictures of the kids actually using the materials. It’s really a pretty nifty concept.

Right now I’m feeling pretty darn happy about my job as a teacher. Sure, I don’t get any money out of it, nor materials I can really play with, but my kids get a better education because of a little extra effort on my part. My newspaper kids are going to be so excited! This is the kind of thing that makes the long hours, student complaining and general apathy I deal with some days all worth it.

*I felt a little bad about this as she was sad she didn’t get her grant

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Filed under charity, cool links, good days, life as a teacher, products, ramblings, the arts, what makes me me

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