When you support a classroom on DonorsChoose.org, you have the option to leave a “donation message” along with your gift, a short note to let the teacher know why you chose their classroom to support. We constantly hear from teachers that these messages have inspired them in different ways. Music teacher Lynn Tillman, an elementary music teacher from Georgia, shares how one donor’s messages changed how she thinks about teaching. This is her story.
A donor donates. Students get the resources they need. That’s how DonorsChoose.org works (and it’s pretty groovy). But that relationship between donors, teachers, and students can be so much more. I’m astounded at how much of a difference a kind and generous donor can make in teachers’ lives and in the lives of our students.
Through a series of random donations, blind luck, and a little bit of fate, DonorsChoose.org supporter Jamsheed found his way to the Music Makes Our Students Smarter giving page. Now, he makes regular donations and sends the students and teachers he helps uplifting, positive messages of support.
What makes a donation message inspiring?
Jamsheed’s messages to teachers are always different. Not only does he inspire us as teachers, but he asks us to pass along the messages of support to our students to uplift them. Here are a few of my favorites:
Teachers are my heroes. You are bringing up our next generation of little leaders in every walk of life.
Every child deserves an equal education. Challenge Yourselves AND your Students today! Have a FABULOUS day!
Your children’s success is YOUR success because of the dedication and perseverance that you use in your educational guidance. Thank you sincerely for being a true hero to our nation’s education system, to your children, to your local community, and most of all to me.
What those messages mean to teachers
After I posted my most recent project back in April, I noticed I was checking my email more often than usual (I tend to do that when I have a project up). But I soon realized it wasn’t just to check in on new donations. I was checking because I wanted to read another one of Jamsheed’s messages. It was so amazing to have a donor who doesn’t know my classroom but who cares so much about our success. It made me want to work especially hard that day.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling, so I asked a few of my teacher friends how Jamsheed’s messages affect them and their students.
It’s the best way to start my day and it fuels me to do my best. I read a lot of what he says to my first graders. They are young and he has helped them realize that “real” people are helping us. One time he asked me to give them all a high five from him so I did and told them it was from Jamsheed and he wants them to know he believes in them. I just love the connection he has made with my class! – Ms. Hunt
Sometimes teachers feel quite alone in the task (of teaching). What a difference he has made making us feel supported. – Ms. Bartolomeo
I have been teaching my students that you can donate items, money and time. At first my 4th graders were confused on what donating your time meant. I pulled up my [DonorsChoose.org] account and showed them the messages from Jamsheed. They were inspired not only by his dedication to donating daily, but also that he dedicates time every morning to think about our class. It is because of Jamsheed that my students now know that donating money and items are both great, but that donating your time can be the most meaningful and rewarding in making a difference in the world. – Ms. Edwards
Here are a few lessons for teaching and life that I have learned from being on the receiving end of Jamsheed’s wonderful messages:
- Even if a teacher doesn’t respond to his messages, he still donates anyway. He understands that even if people don’t notice your kindness, you’re still making a difference anyway and should keep doing it.
- The positive messages that he writes on my projects make me feel happy, cared about, and motivated in the morning. Just like these messages inspire me to start the day right, I know that I can make that sort of positive impact for my students every day.
- He always tells us “Make today FABULOUS” rather than just “I hope you have a great day”. That positive attitude is so valuable: we are in control of how our day goes AND how our students’ days go.
One day recently I decided to channel my inner Jamsheed, so I went overboard complimenting everything my kindergarten class did. It worked wonders. When they left that day, one of them said, “I love you, Mrs. Tillman,” and I started crying (happy tears, of course)! Powerful messages of support from donors like Jamsheed have made me a better, more supportive teacher!