#DontLimitMe- Amazing Message by a Student with Down Syndrome

By Lindsey Lipsky, MEd

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I am a huge fan of Twitter for the personal and professional growth it provides educators and communities across the globe (as outlined in my previous posts here and here), so it’s no wonder that this blog post is inspired by a Twitter conversation.

Recently the amazing Beth Foraker @InclusionChick, posted a hand-written note by Emily, a 15 year old student with Down Syndrome. Emily wrote this note in response to a question about her hopes and dreams for life after high school.  Here is the first tweet below:

In case you can’t read the picture, let me transcribe Emily’s letter below. She starts with a list of amazing goals for her future:

1. Go to college

2. Keep learning

3. Graduate like normal kids

(Yes, #3 on that list really touched me.)

Further down on the page Emily says something else that, as a teacher, really struck me:

“I want the teachers to treat me kind. Don’t act like you are frustrated with me. I have Down Syndrome and need help. I want the teachers to see how smart I am.”

Amazing.

Just like everyone else, Emily is asking us, begging us, to not get frustrated with her. To be kind. To help her. To see how smart she is. To never give up. A message that all teachers; former, current and future need to hear. #DontLimitMe

Just when I thought the message couldn’t get anymore inspiring, @InclusionChick posted something else: a message Emily had written on the very back of her note. (See tweet below.)

In case you can’t read it.  Here is what Emily wrote below:

“Time to see what I can do to test the limits and break through. Don’t limit me.”

Excuse me while I go wipe the tears off my face…

This letter is an amazing example of why we, as teachers, parents and community members, do what we do each day. Why we work so tirelessly to ensure our students with special needs get what they need and deserve. After all, isn’t it really all about how we can help our students become successful citizens and human beings, no matter the ability or circumstance?

Please join us in sharing this message on Twitter by using the hashtag #DontLimitMe – our new battle cry thanks to @InclusionChick.  Here is the tweet that inspired it all:

I hope this letter and subsequent messages on Twitter will help ignite a revolution, a revolution to help change how we treat and work with our students who have learning differences. Remember: When we change the way we think about learning for our students with special needs, we help change learning for ALL. #DontLimitMe

UPDATE: Please also check out this amazing post by Beth Foraker, @InclusionChick here on the power of Emily’s letter. 


Want more on the powerful message of #DontLimitMe?

Be sure to check out this amazing video by Megan Bomgaars, an inspirational young woman with Down Syndrome. It’s an inspiring four minute watch that you won’t be sorry you missed!

Big thanks to Beth Foraker, @InclusionChick for this amazing share; you are an inspiration to all of us!  #DontLimitMe

Finding Funds for your Classroom

By Lindsey Lipsky, MEd
Before I became a teacher, I had no idea the amount of money I would be spending out of pocket on my classroom.  In over five years of teaching, I have spent thousands of dollars on materials, books, and the occasional pizza party for my students. From engaging posters/curriculum/materials for my units, to furniture in the reading corner, and even a sweater for the student I knew didn’t have one at home, I could not separate my practice from spending.

A recent study by the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) found that “99.5 percent of all public school teachers (in the 2012-2013 school year), spent some amount of money out of pocket” on their classrooms, (David Nagel, The Journal). Although it is no secret that teachers spend billions of dollars each year on their classrooms, one of the things that most surprises me nowadays as a teacher trainer working in schools is how few teachers know about online funding projects for their classrooms.

Teachers: Have an amazing classroom idea or project, but not the supplies or funds? Step away from your wallet and into the world of online crowd funding!

Below are some of my top online funding websites for teachers and schools to use in the New Year. Whether you’re looking to add some books to your library, spruce up your classroom with new furniture, or gain updated technology for your kids, head on over to these sites for some amazing opportunities.  You and your students just might have the time of your lives doing it!

1. Donor’s Choose:
DonorsChoose.org is an online non-profit organization that connects public school teachers to essential classroom materials, supplies, and technology. Teachers write about projects, curriculum, and materials they need in the classroom and their project is posted for free on DonorsChoose.org for up to four months. Endorsed by many large corporations, celebrities and organizations alike, the most amazing thing about this website is that donors can often double the impact with match offers and promo codes by large companies.

When your project is fully funded, all materials and items are shipped to your school for free from the Donor’s Choose team.  You can choose from vendor’s like Apple, Staples, Scholastic and more to find what you need; The possibilities are endless!

Want to make a great Donor’s Choose page? Here are some awesome tips by Mr. Andy, an early elementary teacher in New York, who has received over $7,000 in supplies and materials funded by Donors Choose for his classroom.

2. GoFundMe:
GoFundMe is an online fundraising website that can be used for anyone or anything in need of funds.  While not necessarily intended for the classroom, it has proven to be an amazingly effective fundraising tool for schools and classrooms across the country. So far GoFundMe has risen over $630M for various projects, people, and organizations around the country. GoFundMe is totally free and has no end time limits to post about your project.

Getting started is easy; just take the tour to find out how you can create your own page.

Want some tips on how it’s done? Check out this amazing project done by Matthew Arend, the Principal at E.A. Sigler Elementary in Plano, TX, for a School Makerspace.  (Read this Edutopia article here on what a Makerspace is!) This amazing $3,000 project recently reached full funding and will be sure to impact some young lives. Congrats Sigler Stars!
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I hope these sites give you and yours some amazing things for the New Year. Enjoy!