Jamie Mullenaux and her class of 4th grade students began their New Year with a resolution to put an Interactive Whiteboard on their classroom wall. In less than one month at Mechanicsville Elementary in Virginia, Mullenaux's students have raised nearly 70% of their targeted goal.
Mullenaux has been teaching fourth grade at Mechanicsville Elementary for nearly four years however this is her first year teaching an 'all-girls' class. According to Mullenaux, her school has been organizing single-sex classrooms since she began in an effort to better understand the achievement gap between genders in the elementary school. In turn Mullenaux has taken her new role as a personal challenge to engage and teach her group of eighteen girls using new technology.
"It is our job to prepare these students for the future," says Mullenaux. "This is especially important for me as an educator of an all-girls classroom because I feel that females aren't currently as prevalent in technology oriented jobs as some males may be."
Staying true to her goal of infusing technology around the calendar, Mullenaux continually booked the media lab so her students could use the school's only tabletop Whiteboard. Although partially broken, her students habitually returned from the lab asking their teacher when they could get a Whiteboard for their own classroom. Just before the Holiday Season, Mullenaux showed her students Digital Wish and asked them brainstorm ideas of how they could fundraise for their class. Soon after the students collectively decided to run a letter writing campaign asking friends and family for contributions towards their Whiteboard.
"It was great because it was also something that we could tie into our persuasive writing curriculum," Mullenaux says. "After I edited each letter, the kids sent them out and they immediately started seeing results."
Although Mullenaux admits that she didn't expect much of a response from the community when the letters first went out, she claims that she was beside herself when checks from local donors began rolling in.
"The first response we received was a check for $500 from one of the student's grandfather who owns a local business," says Mullenaux. "From that point on the kids kept receiving checks and we all began to realize that getting a Whiteboard was very possible through the support of family and friends."
With more checks in the mail Mullenaux and her students are certain that they will be hanging their new Whiteboard on their classroom wall in the near future. When that day arrives Mullenaux claims that the first order of business will be to play Nintendo Wii with her students.
"Honestly, all of my recent Digital Wish success can only be attributed to my girls," Mullenaux says. "Needless to say this experience has definitely surpassed my expectations."