Donors Choose and Google Surprise Cascade Elementary Special Education Teacher with Tools to Help Students with Special Needs

by Kimberly Willis Green

During a top secret special assembly held November 4, Cascade Elementary School Special Education Teacher Sheakita Turner was surprised by representatives from Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, Cascade Elementary Principal Dr. Sylvia Sanders, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, and Atlanta Board of Education members Steven D. Lee (District 5) and Eshé P. Collins (District 6) with funds to fully support her Big Comfy Rug project and a $2,500 gift card for other classroom resources.

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Cascade Elementary School Special Education Teacher Sheakita Turner

A few weeks ago, Turner requested support from DonorsChoose.org to provide a comfortable learning space for her students, many of whom are in wheelchairs or are sensory learners. Without a large area rug, her students are unable to leave their wheelchairs to learn and play with others. “The Big Comfy Rug project will help ensure the comfort and success of every student in my class,” said Turner. “I will be able to get on the floor with my students for circle time and sensory play.”

Donors Choose and Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities focuses on empowering America’s Special Education Teachers with innovative tools and technology to help students with special needs. The project is part of Google’s philanthropic efforts to expand opportunity and independence for people living with disabilities, including 6.4 million special education students in the U.S. public education system.

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(From L-R) Atlanta Board of Education Member Steven D. Lee (District 5), Donors Choose Partnerships and Development Kristina Joye Lyles, Google Executive Amol Naik, Cascade Elementary School Principal Dr. Sylvia Sanders, Cascade Elementary School Special Education Teacher Sheakita Turner, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, Atlanta Board of Education Member Eshé P. Collins and Cascade Elementary School students.

In addition to Ms. Turner’s project, Google.org announced it would be funding all special needs projects posted on Donors Choose in Fulton, DeKalb, Douglas and Cobb counties — totaling more than $145,000 in donations, fulfilling more than 115 teachers’ goals and impacting more than 7,200 students in greater Atlanta.

Every year, America’s teachers spend an average of $490 of their own money to ensure that the kids they teach have all the tools they need. Google.org is focused on celebrating these teachers, helping these teachers and making education accessible for all children.

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Cascade Elementary School students and staff surprised Ms. Turner during a special assembly.

“Google.org is proud to support DonorsChoose.org’s efforts to celebrate teachers working with special needs students,” said Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google.org, Google’s philanthropic division. “We care deeply about education and the power of innovation to improve people’s lives, and that’s exactly the work in which these teachers are engaged.”

Congratulations Ms. Turner!

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