The cost of Animal Kingdom Camp at the Bronx Zoo is $11, including shipping and <a target="new" href="http://www.donorschoose.org/html/fulfillment.htm" onclick="g_openWindow('http://www.donorschoose.org/html/fulfillment.htm', 300, 800, 'fulfillwindow');return false;">fulfillment</a>.
I am writing to request your support in providing funding to send a fourth grader in my 3/4th special education classroom at P.S. 206 in East Harlem, to camp at the Bronx Zoo this summer. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. This student is the tallest kid in my class. At 5'5” tall, he and I stand eye to eye, but he towers over his classmates. He has been retained three times and is currently 12 years old, three years older than some of his classmates. He has faced enormous challenges in the past few years, including the traumatic loss of his mother, the frustration of his learning disability and an increasing disparity between his age, his ability, and his grade level. He is easily the brightest student in my class and is clearly capable of doing fifth grade work, but due to a delayed referral to special education and current testing and retention policies, he suffers the embarrassment of once again sharing a classroom with nine year olds. He suffers so terribly from low self-esteem that he is afraid to be successful. He slouches, slumps, and hides inside his black hooded sweatshirt because he cannot find a reason to hold his head up. Recently, however, I've had the privilege of seeing this student begin to emerge. I really saw his face for the first time when we started talking about fish. “Yo, Ms. L, one of my six inch tropical fish died last night." This was perhaps the most valuable discovery I'd made all year-this student loves fish. He not only loves them, he apparently knows a lot about them. In fact, I quickly learned that he is an animal lover and has worked hard to become self-educated. He can recite facts from the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet and has already read all of the books I have on fish in our library. In early February, our class took a field trip to see the IMAX film, “Aliens of the Deep” about life on the ocean floor. Since the class and this student in particular seemed so interested, we spent the next month studying the ocean. For almost a month after the trip, he took home the information book from the movie and began working on a spontaneous essay. He recently completed his masterpiece—a full five paragraph essay that is by far the best writing he has ever done. I'm extremely proud of him and he's pretty proud of himself. This was the first spark. He is showing improvement in reading due to much needed remediation and he has been successfully mainstreamed in math. My student is showing clear progress but he has large hurdles to overcome. He needs to feel proud of himself a lot more often if we want him to succeed in the years to come. For this reason I am writing to request your support in providing this student with a summer experience that will not only excite his brain, but help him understand how his own interests connect to the outside world. The Bronx Zoo hosts a summer camp that exposes students to all aspects of animal life. Students spend four days exploring the adaptations, behavior, ecology, and conservation of wild animals, and then apply their knowledge as they participate in the care and maintenance of zoo animals. The program is highly respected; the website provides an excellent explanation of the experience. http://bronxzoo.com/bz-education/publicedprograms/bzsummer. As educators we seek to bring our students' interests into the classroom. Your support will help my student connect his learning experiences to life outside the classroom. When I asked him why he wants to go to camp at the zoo, he just shrugged inside his hooded black sweatshirt and said, "I don't know, I just like animals." But then he sheepishly smiled and gave himself away. This stuff makes him feel good. In just one week he might see or touch or do something that will forever alter his idea of what is possible. This unique opportunity could help him stand a little taller next year. On behalf of this student, his family, and myself, thank you for your time and consideration.
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