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SONIC Limeades for Learning January Teacher of the Month: Teaching Students the Importance of Hard Work with the Help of Her “Book Vending Machine”

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SONIC’s first Teacher of the Month in 2023 is Chris Kargol, an early childhood special education teacher from Milwaukee, WI.

Below, Chris explains how her “Book Vending Machine” project funded through DonorsChoose encourages her students to work hard and earn the ultimate prize: a book they can take home to keep!

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I wanted to become a teacher from a very young age. In high school, I worked at a summer program for students with disabilities. It was a wonderful experience that made me realize I wanted to work with students.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching my students learn new skills and become successful in the regular education classroom.

What are some of your go-to ways to encourage students to engage in the classroom?

Students in early childhood learn best with hands-on activities and through play. Having Lego Duplo blocks and Magna-tiles in the classroom helps students learn through trial and error as they build castles and other structures. Simple board games are also a wonderful way for students to learn pre-academic skills.

What is your favorite project that has received funding from SONIC Drive-In, and why?

My favorite project that was funded is our Book Vending Machine. Students who are safe, respectful, and responsible earn a gold coin. They use the gold coin to purchase a book from the vending machine to take home and keep. It has been amazing to watch students look at books in the vending machine and then choose a book of their very own that they have worked for.

What are some notable classroom needs that you and your fellow teachers have right now where funding support could help?

Teachers always need basic school supplies and books for students to read.

What tips do you have for fellow educators who want to upload a project on DonorsChoose for the first time?

Keep your first project around $300. Smaller projects are more likely to get funded quickly. Social media is also a great tool to get the word out. When your project receives a match on donations, share on your social channels and with family and friends.

This story is part of an ongoing series.