SONIC gives Bossier Parish teachers nearly $6K for classroom projects

Eleven Bossier Parish teachers have more money for classroom projects thanks to a unique giving campaign by a fast food chain and its customers.

Limeades for Learning Is a charitable giving campaign by Sonic Drive-In. September began the eighth year for the program.

Teachers submitted grants for classroom projects, ranging from circuit programming to wobble chairs, for consideration in September.  While some teachers have been notified they will receive grants, others are still waiting to see if they will be funded.

In the unique campaign, SONIC Drive-In customers vote online for their favorite teacher or project by using a code found on orders from the restaurant. Teachers who have submitted project proposals and have the most votes at the end of each week are winners. The remaining projects get a chance for funding the next week.

Elm Grove Middle School STEM teacher, Spencer Kiper, has received funding for 31 classroom projects related to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) since October 2013. His most recent project involves turning his classroom closet into a simulations lab so flight simulators and devices can be stored. He plans to add gaming chairs and a game system too, so students can use the equipment when the class studies aerospace.

“I have had 7 projects funded this calendar year,” he said. “The great thing about DonorsChoose is that we never have to handle money. We just receive the equipment.” DonorsChoose is an online crowdfunding resource.

Kiper said students’ parents are very supportive.

“I’m very proud of it,” he said. “During the summer time I work at NASA and spend a lot of time working with teachers in the United States, and internationally. A lot of the projects I find out about I gleaned from other teachers in different places. When I collaborate with teachers from Finland, Kenya, South Africa or England, I come back and want to bring those experiences to kids here.”

The Limeades for Learning campaign allows the public to allocate $1 million to public school teachers’ classrooms nationwide. It was created to provide teachers with essential materials and supplies to inspire students through creativity and innovation.

“2016 is a milestone year for Limeades for Learning,” Sonic CEO Cliff Hudson said in a news release. “This May we announced our $15 million commitment over the next five years to making a difference in public school classrooms across the country.”

Since the campaign’s implementation in 2009, Sonic has donated more than $6 million to public school teachers, helping 11,500 teachers and 349,920 students, according to DonorsChoose.org Founder and CEO Charles Best.

“Our team’s mission is to make sure students in every community are receiving the materials and experiences they need to learn and thrive inside the classroom,” Best said in a news release. “It’s our passion to make a change in the future of education and this program makes it easy for anyone in every community to vote and join the movement of enhancing a student’s learning experience one classroom at a time.”

Kiper said more teachers are starting to look into DonorsChoose.org.for classroom funding.

“It’s gained a lot of traction over the past five years as far as crowd funding for your classroom,” Kiper said. “The classroom version of it has really appealed to the general education community and has been a fantastic outlet to receive donations not only from the general public, but also from corporations who are looking to give a charitable donation as well.”

“Around 15 to 20 percent of the teachers at my school have used it and been able to receive projects funded through that. It’s money that isn’t coming out of the school or district fund or the taxpayer pockets,” Kiper said.

Voting concludes Oct. 23.