|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
Students in Robin Andre’s eighth grade class at Prescott Mile High Middle School use materials she purchased with Adopt a Class money during class on Monday. The $250 was used to purchase markers, paper, 3x5 cards, pencils, staplers, highliters and memory cards.
PRESCOTT - Michael Ellegood, a former Maricopa County engineer, doesn't have kids in the Prescott Unified School District, isn't related to an employee of the district, and said he has no ties to the schools whatsoever.
But he's helping out nonetheless. In recent months, he's donated nearly $1,000 to classrooms throughout the quad-cities. He's also taken it upon himself to spearhead a local effort to steer money into local schools via the national Adopt-A-Classroom program. Recently, Ellegood became the lead volunteer for the Adopt-A-Classroom program in Arizona.
"When the school bond issue failed I was concerned, because schools are an important part of our community," Ellegood said.
While he originally wrote a letter to the editor to voice his concerns on the override, he knew he had to do more than that. Voters denied the override request in November for district in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley.
"A lot of teachers were taking money out of their pocket to help pay for their classes. I also know teachers are relatively low paid and haven't had a raise in years," he said. "On average, Adopt-A-Classroom has found that teachers put in about $1,000 of their own money into their classroom every year."
The Adopt-A-Classroom organization allows donors to choose a kindergarten-through-12th classroom to support financially. Ellegood is working to spread the word and ramp up donations to classrooms signed up with the organization. But, he added, a teacher doesn't have to be signed up to be eligible.
"It can be a school near you or one you know. You then decide how much you want to support. You go online, find the classroom and give them however much money you feel like giving," Ellegood said. "One hundred percent of the money goes into the classroom and nothing is taken out for administration."
Ellegood has personally adopted five classrooms in Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. He's able to track, via impact reports, how the teachers have used the donations.
"It goes almost immediately to that teacher. The teacher goes online and can purchase whatever they want. They put it to good use," he said.
Mile High Middle School National Junior Honors Society and Social Studies teacher Robin Andre registered for the Adopt-A-Classroom program a few years ago, but never heard from the organization again until January, when she learned of a $250 donation made via Ellegood through the Adopt-A-Classroom program. Normally for the entire year, she said her supply budget is estimated at $200.
"That, basically, gave me twice as many supplies. Of course, the regular amount we get for supplies we run out of. They don't even last two semesters usually, so this was a huge blessing," Andre said.
The money, she said, can only be used at certain online locations catering to schools.
"You have that money to spend and, obviously you can't go over, and you write a little thank you note to the person who sent you the money," Andre said. "You go on the website and shop and compare, since they have more than one website, which is really nice. The whole process probably took me 20 minutes to a half hour."
For more information on the program, visit the Adopt-A-Classroom website at www.adoptaclassroom.org.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier