Denise Bankston dontates money, iPads, and training trip to Plain Dealing school
Carrie Martin Elementary School was in for a big surprise Tuesday when Denise Bankston came to visit.
The word was that Bankston, known to students as Mrs. Dee Dee, had something special up her sleeve that no one knew about, not even Principal Stacy Crawford and Assistant Principal Jill Koeppen. Little did they know that the future of their school would be changing in a matter of minutes.
Bankston presented school administrators a check for $50,000 on behalf of A-Kid’s-Choice Foundation, a non-profit organization she founded three years ago. Not only did she bring the check, but she also purchased the school 60 iPad mini tablets.
“There are no words to express how thankful we are,” Crawford said. “We are excited to see the impact that A-Kid’s-Choice will have on our students and educators. I know it will be huge.”
Bankston said that is exactly what she wants to see from the foundation’s work.
“We come into schools like this hoping to make a difference,” Bankston said. “We are excited and eager to help make this community proud. We have the tools and techniques to do just that.”
Bankston said A-Kid’s-Choice gives each teacher the additional support needed in the classroom, which also opens the door to new possibilities for individual education paths.
“I fell in love with this school the minute I walked in and there is hope for these children,” Bankston said.
A-Kid’s-Choice Foundation was developed from Bankston’s personal experience with a language based learning disability. Her son, JT, is a former student in the Bossier Parish school system that learned to overcome his dyslexia and dysgraphia with the help of Bossier educators and the Landmark School in Boston, Mass.
JT, now a college graduate, had a special message for the students at Carrie Martin – be an advocate for your education.
“If you don’t understand something, tell your teacher,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask.”
Carrie Martin Elementary received an additional $25,000 donation earlier this school year from A-Kid’s-Choice Foundation as just the start of the school’s path to excellence. It also makes the fourth Bossier Parish school to be adopted by A-Kid’s-Choice, joining Curtis Elementary, Legacy Elementary and Meadowview Elementary.
Not only has the foundation given significant financial donations, but it has also sent 16 teachers to The Landmark School’s Summer Outreach Program in Boston. The world-renowned school specializes in instructional methods to help students with language-based difficulties, such as dyslexia.
The third surprise of the day was the announcement of which teachers would be attending this year’s summer training. The faculty was originally told only 8 would go, but there were two additional teachers selected.
Representing Carrie Martin Elementary in Boston will be Rachel Gifford, Michelle Craig, Jaime Whatley, Wendy Crews, Jamie Payne, Brittani McMillan, Leslie Alexander, Tricia Huckaby, Charlotte Barnett and Susan Wilson.
Principal Stacy Crawford and Assistant Principal Jill Koeppen will also be going to Boston for training.
Leslie Alexander, a first grade teacher, said she is ecstatic about the opportunity and can’t wait to bring the information back to her students in the fall. The importance of this training, she said, is
“This will benefit all beginning readers,” Alexander said. “This will allow us to build a strong foundation for our students to build upon and also catch any problems before they get bigger.”
Bossier Superintendent D.C. Machen personally thanked A-Kid’s-Choice Foundation for their support and contributions to the school system, which he said totals about $1 million. Alexander said every bit of that is doing great things for Bossier, especially in Plain Dealing.
“At a school like ours, a little change and momentum can go a long way,” Alexander said. “This is just the beginning for us.”
For more information on A-Kid’s-Choice Foundation, visit www.akidschoicefoundation.com