May 4, 2016


Many of my students have low socio-economic status. We have enough students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch that the school qualified for a grant which provides free breakfast and lunch to all students! The breakfast is grab and go in the main entrance. Lunch is the same as usual but when everyone gets free lunch there's no stigma or barrier if students lose their ID cards or don't have the reduced price. It's a great program and better-fed students is always a great thing to have in the classroom. Plus sometimes I get a bonus string cheese or cereal if kids don't want all of their breakfast. But that wasn't what I wanted to tell you about today...

The music department does a fundraiser where a wholesale mattress company comes to the school and offers great prices on mattresses. A few years ago I had just moved from a one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom condo so I took advantage of the event and bought a great mattress. But it's a great mattress, so I didn't need to replace it two years ago when they did the fundraiser again, and I still don't need to replace it this time around. My co-worker and I asked one of the students if they make any money off it. She shared that other towns make something like $8,000 each time they run it, but Salem has made around $8,000 total. In other towns people can afford to replace their mattresses frequently (which is apparently recommended? I think I had my childhood mattress from when I first moved into a 'big kid bed' all the way through ... well, forever, it's still there as a guest bed) but in Salem people aren't upgrading or replacing mattresses on a regular basis. The majority of the money raised was from a local inn that needed to replace all of their mattresses. How great that a local company supported the school music department! But, this makes me realize (again), that the schools that need to fund raise the most are the ones where parents and community members don't have the disposable income to spend. I doubt that people from neighboring cities are interested in supporting our schools, and people in our city generally don't have the money to support the schools. Where does that leave us?

Having a great school isn't all about having money, but it sure helps when the music department can buy new instruments or uniforms, and can afford to travel to competitions. Because when our band and color guard do get to compete, they win. Our students work incredibly hard to become excellent musicians and deserve the chance to show off their accomplishments. I wish they didn't have to work so hard to raise the money necessary to do so.


  1. Practice using Stick with $400 projects. Pay attention to matches for art. You may be surprised how generous strangers are.

    1. That's a good way to reach people outside the community! Thanks.

  2. Too bad you can't host a big competition for all the outside schools with all sorts of money. Make them pay you for entrance fees. Get the local inn to reserve a block of rooms, and give you a little sponsorship. Then your kids can whoop all the other schools on their home field, or perhaps in a nearby park.

    I'm partway serious about this. Under-resourced urban schools are usually close to resources that well-funded schools simply don't have. Being able to host a large event without stressing the roads, or local hotels or whatever could be some way to provide the students access to some of the events that that the budget can't allow.