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Website collects for Newtown teachers

Updated 10:22 pm, Wednesday, December 26, 2012


  • State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.  (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Photo: Jessica Hill, Associated Press / AP2011
    State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Photo: Jessica Hill, Associated Press


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NEWTOWN -- A new website will provide donors from around the world with a way to support the work of teachers at Newtown schools.

The site -- http://www.donorschoose.org/newtown -- was launched on Wednesday. It is a response to the outpouring of support for Newtown after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14 that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

"The idea is that the donations will directly impact the classrooms, so the teachers can decide on projects or special work they want to do and apply directly for funds to support them," Newtown Superintendent Janet Robinson said.

Robinson said state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor "thought this was a great way to get resources to the teachers a way that is meaningful to our kids."

Pryor said Donors Choose.org, has worked that way in other crises.

"Obviously, the circumstances in Newtown are unique," he said. "There has been an extraordinary outpouring of support from around the state and the country, and it is our sense that they are looking for ways to give support.

"There has been an excess of teddy bears and other gifts," Pryor continued. "They are well-intentioned and welcome, but they are not reaching the students in the way I think people hope they would. As teachers gear up to return to school, this can help the teachers of Newtown think about how they can restart their classrooms."

Donations might go toward supplies for art projects, soil and seeds for a memorial garden, or books and shelves for a classroom reading corner, Pryor said.

He praised Monroe and Newtown officials for their work to make the Chalk Hill School in Monroe a new, temporary home for the students of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, but said the Newtown teachers can use a boost to enhance their classrooms.

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org, said in a press release that the website was "honored and humbled to provide a platform for supporting these educators."

The money raised by DonorsChoose.org is to be divided equally among Newtown teachers. DonorsChoose.org says it vets every request, purchases the materials and ships them directly to the classroom, provides photos of the project taking place, and supplies a cost report showing how every dollar was spent. Donations through DonorsChoose.org are tax-deductible.

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, said in the press release that the six educators who died in the schools were heroes even before they were killed.

"By the simple and profound choice to teach, they each demonstrated the selfless, quiet, extraordinary heroism that defines the teaching profession," Duncan said.

Tom Kuroski, president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers, said in a prepared statement that the website donations would help.

"As we grieve and continue the work of supporting one another during this difficult time," Kuroski said, "we are grateful for these contributions that will help our teachers create the learning, enriching and caring environments for their students that they seek to provide."

eileenf@newstimes.com; 203-731-3333