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SONIC Limeades for Learning April Teacher of the Month: The Importance of Connecting Community with the Classroom

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By Christina Reh

SONIC’s Limeades for Learning makes a difference in classrooms through DonorsChoose by supporting public school teachers and the great projects they’re creating in the classroom. To share their innovative approaches to education, we’re spotlighting an educator each month to show the different ways they’re enriching their schools and communities.

Meet Dr. Tonya Ryan, a fifth grade teacher with more than 20 years of experience based in St. Charles, Missouri. She originally chose to be a teacher to show kids that they deserve the best. “I remember my one caring adult at school – it changed my life,” says Tonya. “I strive to create a brave space for my learners to try anything and celebrate mistakes. Our class understands the importance of empathy and working together.”

But as much as she does to support her students, Tonya is a firm believer in the importance of community. “Successful schools are a result of community support and involvement – not just work from the teachers,” she says. “It’s really important for students to see themselves using the learning they’re doing outside of school. In fact, the most rewarding part of my job is being a part of students’ ‘aha’ moments.”

One way Tonya has found to encourage community involvement is requesting funding for school projects through DonorsChoose. “DonorsChoose helps me find resources and makes projects possible for my students,” says Tonya. “My favorite project was bringing IXL’s personalized learning platform to my school. I promoted it building-wide and took it to our PTO organization, which helped get funding for our entire school, second through fifth grade. SONIC helped match all donations to fund this project.”

For educators interested in funding their own classroom projects through DonorsChoose, Tonya encourages them to engage their communities. “Get your project out there in your community and advocate for it. Community members are always happy to be a part of supporting their public schools – they just need to know about it. Your kids deserve the best, and you do too!”

Are you a teacher interested in securing funding through DonorsChoose? Visit To learn more about SONIC’s Limeades for Learning, visit

This story is part of an ongoing series.