When Nikki Kersbergen, an English teacher with Geneva High School, found out she and colleagues could create new electives for students who pass the English Regents, she saw it as an “awesome opportunity,” but quickly realized there was a significant obstacle. The school did not have enough money to purchase materials to support the electives. Kersbergen turned to DonorsChoose.org to request funding from community members. Thanks to Geneva Community Projects, Inc. (GCP) and five individuals, including Associate Professor of English Anna Creadick, Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn and Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Susan Pliner, more than 75 students have the literary resources they need.
Through the non-profit organization DonorsChoose.org website, anyone can donate directly to specific projects in public schools across the country in a unique peer-to-peer philanthropic effort. Like thousands of teachers across the country, Kersbergen created a project page that described her need and how it would improve the lives and classroom experiences of her students.
Kersbergen wanted to be able to supply her students with copies of Teen Ink, a magazine that contains original artwork, photographs, poems and short stories created for teens by teens.
“Having issues of the magazine every month gives my students fresh inspiration. I would even like to see my students submit their work to Teen Ink,” said Kersbergen, who teaches a new creative writing elective, children’s literature, English 11, and an academic instructional support class.
“This could be their gateway to getting into a really great college. This could be the beginning of a fantastic career in writing,” she said.
With the full funding support her project received, Kersbergen has purchased subscriptions to Teen Ink for students to use as fresh inspiration and motivation each month.
“We wanted to support the objectives of Geneva 2020. Geneva Community Projects has a tradition of supporting literacy in Geneva; our current Board President and Secretary Belinda Venuti and Kim Aliperti were the organizers of the inaugural Geneva Reads Book Fest,” explains Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at HWS, who is a board member of GCP. “Since Mrs. Kersbergen’s DonorsChoose.org project aimed to engage GHS students in creative writing, the project seemed like the perfect fit.”
GCP is a charitable corporation dedicated to building and renewing the strengths of the Geneva community through projects designed to promote the public good and uplift the human spirit.
“Thank you so much for supporting our students,” said Kersbergen.”This is a fantastic resource for fantastic students. This magazine will help inspire readers to become writers. It will open their eyes to the world of teenage writers. Thank you for believing in education and these students. It is because of the support of people like you that these teenagers will be successful in high school and in their lives. I couldn’t do my job to the best of my ability without your support. Thank you!”
In the photo above, students in Nikki Kersbergen’s class read Teen Ink.