Ryan Denning teaches history and English in New Bloomfield, a small town twenty minutes north of Jefferson City. Like all teachers in the New Bloomfield school district, Denning’s salary is under a pay freeze. He’s seen the school suffer large budget cuts, and he recognizes that education funds are low. But thanks to community efforts Denning is one of two teachers receiving a grant for over $4,000, which they’re using to buy clickers for their students.
"So I’ll put in a question like multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and the kids can click in with their little student response system," said Denning. "It’s just kind of like being on a quiz show or something. Everybody gets to buzz in and you get to see what the results are. It’ll be pretty exciting to see what we can do with that."
Denning was one of 12 teachers who received a grant this fall from the New Bloomfield Education Foundation, a nonprofit that hosts fundraisers and collects donations to grant to the school district. Although it’s barely a year old, it’s already given close to $15,000 dollars in grants to New Bloomfield teachers. And according to founder Suzy Hinrichs, the entire foundation relies on the investment of the community.
"The people who are involved in this foundation are people who care about the academic success of the students at New Bloomfield r-III school district. Everybody who is involved are either former teachers, they’re community members, we have parents on our board of directors," Hinrichs said.
Hinrichs says she started the foundation because she felt the school system wasn’t up-to-date with educational technology.
"New Bloomfield has a real need for technology," said Hinrichs. "And our school is behind some other schools in that area and we recognize that and we really want to assist the school with their technology needs. And those are big dollars."
Sixth through twelfth grade principal Suzan Dockery says clickers are the kind of thing New Bloomfield district would never be able to provide to students with their current school funds.
"Technology like that that costs over $4000 dollars? No, we would never be able to carve that out of really a limited supply budget," Dockery said. "That’s the wonderful thing about the foundation. It is designed to help us get the things that are not able to be gotten in our budget."
Denning, who received his masters in educational technology, says he’s thankful for the foundation because the technology will change the way he teaches.
"I mean, the kids, it really engages them, and they’re excited to learn. It’s really going to enhance what we’re doing."
Dockery says she is also grateful for the foundation’s contribution to the school.
"We’re talking about a community that’s in the same economy that we are in. They’re giving out of their limited resources to make sure their kids have what they need and can have an education just as good here as anywhere else. It really points to a community that thinks a lot of the school. We can never say thank you enough," Dockery said.
The New Bloomfield Education Foundation plans to award its next grants sometime next year.