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Ypsilanti art teacher uses crowdfunding to raise money for classroom

posted Sep 30, 2014, 1:56 AM by J Shaw   [ updated Sep 30, 2014, 2:04 AM ]
Just as creative artists find new ways to work with blank canvases, paints or marble slabs, Debra Ennis, an art teacher at Holmes Elementary in Ypsilanti, has found a new way to fund her classroom.

Though Ennis's classroom is stocked with enough art supplies to run the art program at Holmes, she wanted to be able to buy some backup stock as well as supplies for special projects, which she said the school's budget didn't allow for.

So she started a crowdfunding page.

Sunday, with 8 days left, the page had raised $360 of its $1,000 goal.

On the page, Ennis said the her goals for the classroom extend beyond what had been budgeted.

"These kids are in for some serious explorative learning," she wrote.

Ennis said in a series of emails that she didn't think turning to crowdfunding was an unconventional one.

"The idea was given to me by other teachers, family and friends who wanted to contribute to the success of our program," she said. "My room had some basic supplies when I arrived, but I knew we really would need more to make it through the year or to really explore ..."

Charles Raski, principal at Holmes Elementary, said he liked Ennis's idea.

"I think it's outside-the-box thinking," Raski said. "I commend Ms. Ennis for trying this."

Raski said that Ennis's enthusiasm for the job is inspiring, and her new way to garner additional funds is nothing but a good thing.

"She's such an artistic person."

Although Raski said he and others in Ypsilanti Community Schools hadn't ever thought about using crowdfunding sites for additional funds, he was happy Ennis brought it to the table.

"It looks to me like it might be a best resource," he said. "Anything that's going to benefit our kids [and allow them] to get their hands on new materials is a good thing."

Liz Margolis, spokeswoman for Ann Arbor Public Schools, said she wasn't aware of any teachers in Ann Arbor who had utilized crowdfunding.

"We would not do that," she said, adding that the district was aware that teachers often pay for extra things for the classroom out of their own pocket, but it's up to the district to fund classrooms.

Ennis said she has received nothing but encouragement and support from the community.

"[It] really shoes how much our community values its children and their educators," she said.

Ennis was quick to point out her classroom wasn't underfunded.

"I understand and respect our specific fiscal circumstances, which are not much different than those of any other public school," she said.

Crowdfunding gave Ennis and her classroom the greatest amount of exposure, she said.

"It's like asking for a whole lot of tiny grants from many many people, which can add up to exactly what is needed."

The additional funds will only benefit the close to 400 students Ennis teaches.

"Help only comes when you ask for it," Ennis said.

Posted from : http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/09/ypsilanti_art_teacher_starts_c.html