Two years ago this week, Marion Houser, Jennifer Creadick, Laura Collins, and I were looking for a building to house a dream: a school where children who didn’t learn well in traditional school settings could be successful. After a month of searching, we found one. In order to pay our start-up costs, we proposed a fundraising venture called the 101 Club. We asked 101 people to give $101. They did and the dream became a reality.
As I look at the list, I am moved by the people who gave: church members, former students, the sister of an elementary school classmate, in his memory. Parents of students I tutored, Facebook friends, parents of children whose kids needed this school in the past. Parents of JRA students and their relatives. It truly DID take a village to get this school off the ground, and it takes a village to keep it going.
We started with nine students; presently we have nineteen and we’ll go to 25 next year. Our three classrooms looked like more than enough room; we’ve added a fourth and we’re bursting at the seams. In the beginning we had two full-time teachers, one half-time art teacher, and a part-time administrator. Now we have four full-time teachers, one half-time teacher, a full-time paraprofessional, a half-time Speech and language pathologist/therapeutic educator, and a part time administrator. Our first year we were for third through eighth grades; we’ve since added the ninth grade and next year will continue up through tenth. We have a beta fish named Ozzie, a leopard gecko named Geico, and a fish tank full of various finny creatures. Murray the cat is greeted eagerly by the kids each morning and works to make sure we’re rodent-free each night.
So that we can continue the work we started and so we can continue to take lower income children, we are reprising the 101 Club. We originally chose that number because many people can afford a tax-deductible gift of that size. Some gave numerous times and were super 101 Club members. Some couldn’t give a full $101, and their gifts were gratefully accepted as well. If you gave then, please consider giving again. If you didn’t, please think about making a first time gift that goes to help some struggling kids. You can use the donate button on our website or mail a check to JRA, PO Box 3523, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515. Or, you can hand it to any of our teachers, board members, or parents.
$101 can buy three hardback books, a nice outfit, a ticket for a Broadway show, or a meal in a nice restaurant. It can also help a child experience academic success for the first time. Your gifts got us off to a flying start two years ago. Who knows what they could do now?