Emily Chandler, left, describes some of her favorite projects she’s had funded on donorschoose.org | credit: john bruno

Unsung Hero: Emily Chandler, Special Needs Teacher

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d like to tell you about an unsung classroom hero, Emily Chandler.

Emily teaches high school students with special learning needs in Brooklyn. She has raised more than $20,000 to fund 46 classroom projects in the past six years.

Emily told me about two of her favorite projects. For one, she and her students measured the Brooklyn Bridge by walking across it wearing pedometers. They used algebra and physics to determine the length of the bridge and their velocity as they crossed it. “I know that making math more real to my students and taking it out of the textbook will help them get jazzed about math, and that motivation can carry them to success,” Emily told her donors in a thank you note. “Thank you so much for believing in me, and believing in my kids!”

The second project she told me about was for an Xbox Kinect system, which raised a few eyebrows among her colleagues. When she asked her students how they could counteract bullying at school, dancing was one of the most popular ideas. Now, her students use their new system and dancing games to build self-esteem and get active. It also helps students who have trouble sitting still or focusing, providing an outlet to release some energy during the school day.

Just last week, Emily had her first field trip project funded. She’s going to take her class to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art thanks to nearly $1000 in donations from donors as far away as California and Puerto Rico. These donors may never get a chance to meet Emily, but they recognize the impact she’s having on the lives of her students.

See more of Emily’s amazing projects here, and check out the top ways to say thank you to your favorite teachers. Who are some of the influential teachers in your life?