Connecticut Aims to Allocate $4 Million Investment for Teachers’ Project Proposals

Kate Dias, the president of the largest teachers union in Connecticut, the Connecticut Education Association, recounted a time during her teaching career when she used her own money to buy Barbie dolls to make a lesson more interesting.

Another teacher, she stated, utilized Play-Doh to create calculus models.

In both cases, the teachers had to pay for these supplies out of their own pockets, according to Dias.

Based on a survey by the Association of American Educators, teachers spend an average of over $650 per year on supplies, sometimes including toys for innovative teaching ideas, as well as everyday classroom items like notebooks and markers.

This week, officials from the state Department of Education announced a new investment of $4 million that aims to allow thousands of educators the chance to propose projects and have the state cover the cost of supplies.

“Connecticut is home to exceptional educators, and they deserve recognition,” said Charlene Russell Tucker, the state’s education commissioner, during a press conference at Highcrest Elementary School in Wethersfield. “Teachers work tirelessly on behalf of our students every single day, creating classroom environments where students are encouraged to be curious and take risks, and where student learning, growth, and well-being are always the top priority. This investment highlights the importance of our educators and how greatly we value the work they do for our state’s students.”

The Connecticut Educator Support Funds Initiative was launched this week in partnership with DonorsChoose, a website that allows teachers to crowdfund for classroom supplies and resources.

Eligible projects must focus on “learning acceleration, academic renewal, and student enrichment,” or “the social, emotional, and mental health of students and school staff,” according to the education department.

Public school teachers in Pre-K through 12th grade can apply for up to $1,000 in funding per project they propose. Funding will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and eligible projects are expected to be funded within a week of being posted.

“We know that additional funding allows us to think and do things differently, and in some cases, it just enhances an opportunity we’ve identified in our classrooms,” Dias stated. “These opportunities enable us to say, ‘Listen, we want everyone to have access. We don’t want it to be based on what your teacher can afford. We want everyone, everywhere to have opportunities to engage and do things differently.’

Most of the current posts on the DonorsChoose website are seeking funding for classroom supplies such as dry-erase markers, notebooks, pencils, and water bottles.

Other requests include scooter-boards for physical education classes in Danbury, T-shirts and snacks for a student yoga club in Bridgeport, and headphones for state testing in Hartford.

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