Luke Ladd, 6, a first-grader at Sardis Elementary, carefully lines up two rows of pennies, hoping to find 50 of them.
He and a handful of classmates were counting change they had recently raised for Clarkdale Elementary, a Cobb County school devastated by flooding near Atlanta earlier this fall.
But what Luke didn’t realize was that while the lesson in helping others was teaching him about empathy and others’ situations, he was also learning counting, organizing skills and even expanding his creative thinking by drawing cards and writing letters to the children at the other elementary school.
Donna DuPraw, an enrichment teacher at Sardis, said the project was shared by students throughout the entire school. Kids collected as many coins as they could each week, then used graphs to chart their progress among the classrooms. Some students took on the task of sorting and counting the coins, while others created posters and crafted scripts for the school’s morning announcements, keeping the entire school excited for the project.
When the counting stopped a couple of weeks ago — although money was still trickling in, even after last week’s deadline — the elementary students had raised $729, more than enough to get every grade level at Clarkdale a $100 gift card, plus an extra gift card.
“They lost everything,” said DuPraw. “We raised over $700, so now we’ll be able to give $100 to each grade level, plus an extra $100. We’re very excited; we’ve had the whole school involved.”
In a project like this, DuPraw said, it’s important to show real-life uses for skills taught in the classroom. That’s why the project involved writing skills, drawing skills and math skills.
“You get to see their learning styles,” DuPraw said as the students piled coins into different shapes. While Ladd kept his coins in two neat rows, Karina Rivera, 6, counted small piles at a time and fellow classmate Kyle Rend was pulling from one large pile of 50 pennies.
“We talked about what would happen if the flood affected us, here at Sardis,” she added. “And how, as a teacher, how much I’ve gathered over the years — resources — and how those teachers lost everything, and even the students, all their work is gone.”
The students said they felt sad for the Cobb County kids.
“We’re sorry that your school flooded,” said Dawson Reeves, 7, adding that if Sardis Elementary flooded, he would miss the playground and the swings the most.
“I would miss my friends and I would miss the playground,” Kyle said. He was interested in rolling the coins, though, because he said he had never done that before.
DuPraw said after the flooding, students at Clarkdale were split up into other schools, which struck a chord among the students.
“I wouldn’t miss my friends because I know all their phone numbers,” added Luke.