Chrystal Schaffner’s special education class played with fake coins to learn about money Wednesday morning, but were unaware a bigger lesson was right around the corner.
Farmers Insurance Agent James Bohr, of Glen Ellyn, surprised the Centennial Elementary School students in Streator when he walked in with a large check of $2,500 for special education resources.
Schaffner said she was aware of the money as she applied for a grant from the insurance company’s national Thank America’s Teachers program and slowly saw support for her classroom grow.
“People from all over the country were voting for us,” Schaffner said.
Principal Anne McDonnell and the rest of the class applauded when Bohr presented the check.
Schaffner said the money would go toward bean bags, light filters and other items that help improve the classroom atmosphere. Some of the kids have sensory problems and breaks can help the situation by playing with items such as putty or taking a rest in a calming space.
She also expects to add to the number of bikes students ride in hallways.
“It’s good because it gives them time to get up and move, but also for a lot of these kids they don’t know how to ride bikes yet,” Schaffner said.
She was especially thankful for those who voted for the classroom online. She kept the donation campaign publicity only to family and friends, but also with a network of other classrooms on the Donors Choose website.
Schaffner was among the first group of 60 teachers to receive a $2,500 donation in 2018. The program, which began in 2015, awards 200 grants from Farmers Insurance throughout the year, all voted on by the public.
Schaffner’s excitement slowly grew along with the number of votes.
“At the beginning of the month we’re like ‘Could we possibly do this?’ and toward the end of the month we were saying ‘Oh, we’re actually winning,’ ” Schaffner said.
For more information on the program and to vote for other schools, visit ThankAmericasTeachers.com.