KOLOA — Excitement and gratitude shot through Kelly Dame as she received $700 to help her students.
“I had chicken skin,” she said. “I was speechless.”
The fifth-grade Koloa Elementary School teacher wasn’t the only one full of joy on Thursday.
She and 19 other mentors received a $19,500 check from the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach and Aloha Angels, a donor fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Out of the $700 given to each teacher, $500 is for school supplies for their classrooms and $200 is for a field trip.
The check helps 20 Koloa elementary classrooms and five after-school clubs.
First-grade teacher Cathy Braun was ecstatic as she sat with her colleagues.
“I had butterflies in my stomach and I started to tear up when they presented it and just that overwhelming feeling of being so thankful,” she said.
The check was presented to KES principal Linda Uyehara by Rotary Club President Michael Carlsson and Rotary member Monroe Richman.
“We really want the kids to be seeing the curriculum in their education to be relevant to their lives and the only way they can do that is out in the real world and so I am so grateful and so appreciate of our community members being able to provide such a great donation to our school,” Uyehara said.
The Rotary Club of Poipu Beach has partnered with KES for years through programs such as “Rotary Readers.”
“We wanted to look for a bigger way to make an impact for the children of our community where we attend the Rotary meeting each week,” Carlsson said.
The Rotary club wanted to adopt all 20 classrooms and five after-school clubs through Aloha Angel’s programs Adopt a Class and Adopt an After School Club, said Aloha Angels President Ric Cox.
The club donated $14,000 to Aloha Angels to adopt the classrooms and $5,500 to pay for teachers to mentor five after-school clubs for each quarter of the upcoming school year.
“I want to make their jobs easier,” Carlsson said of the teachers. “To stimulate them to continue doing their jobs and to stay here on the island of Kauai and continue instilling these good values in the children of our island.”
Cox said Aloha Angels intends to adopt all 277 public elementary classrooms on Kauai. The organization has adopted 168 classrooms so far.
“I hope we can renew this every year, this commitment, so that teachers get $700 every year,” Cox said. “I hope we can grow the numbers of clubs at Koloa so they could have 20 after-school clubs if they had the funding and I hope to do this at every school, at every public elementary school on the island.”
Fifth-grade teacher Minna Freeman-Prichard can’t wait to start a garden project with her students and purchase a classroom iPad.
“It’s an amazing surprise,” she said. “It’s so hard. You know you’ve had your daily little wish list of the little things you can buy and then you have your big dream wish list and this will enable the teachers to get maybe something off their dream wish list.”
Teachers were also given plaques to show their classrooms were adopted by the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach.
“This is a wonderful school,” Freeman-Prichard said. “It’s a really tight-knit group of teachers that work well together.”