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Zoo School: Mirror Lakes teacher raising funds for special program

November 1, 2017
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

One determined fifth-grade teacher at Mirror Lakes Elementary School is hoping to raise enough money to enable her students to take in part in a special science program.

Mindy Stoddard's students have a chance to attend the Zoo School at Busch Gardens to learn from zoologists about the various species and how each one plays an intricate part in the circle of life.

She has started an online fund at www.donorschoose.org in an effort to raise the $3,857 that is needed to transport the students to and from Tampa. As of Oct. 27, donors had contributed a total of $1,699.

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According to Stoddard, it is a great for the students to have the opportunity to experience a way they can make a difference in the world by learning the roles humans play in the world's ecosystems.

"Many of our kids don't get to see much outside of the ride home on the bus, so it's really important for us to try to give them an opportunity to learn more about the world," she said.

Stoddard explained that Mirror Lakes Elementary is a Title I school that is considered "Hard to Staff." Title I usually refers to a school that is located in an area with a higher degree of poverty. The schools receive grants that help to provide each of its students - 100 percent - with free lunch and breakfast.

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"This is my fifth year teaching at Mirror Lakes," she said. "I also work as a teacher leader, who helps students in the school who need a little extra assistance. I work with them and make sure they are making the progress they need to be successful once they leave our school."

According to Stoddard, most Title I schools are hard to keep staffed and have a high turnover rate, which makes it hard on the students.

"Our students have to endure life's tough decisions on a regular basis, whether it is wondering how they will eat their next meal out of school or watching their younger siblings while their parents work a second job just to pay the bills," she said on the fund's website.

Stoddard noted that the field trip also aligns with the preparation of a very important test that all of Florida's fifth-grade and eighth-grade students participate in, the Statewide Science Assessment.

"We are currently preparing our students for the upcoming FSSA test, so we try to expose them to a variety of areas in the science field. The hands-on approach really helps them learn a lot more than if they are just reading from a book," she said.

Stoddard believes that not only do these types of educational opportunities create a great space for learning, but they foster self-development as well.

"We try to build each student's individual character and make them more conscious of the world around them," she said.

This would be the second year that the school has participated in the program.

"Last year one of our resource personnel found out about Zoo School, so we tried it for the first time. It was a great success and the kids learned so much by talking to the staff veterinarians and animal behavioral specialist," Stoddard said.

According to Stoddard, the massive destruction and devastation left behind by Hurricane Irma has added to the list of obstacles that the students are already facing.

"These are some really great kids, but they have had a rough. Any donation amount can bring us one step closer to getting these students there," she said.

Stoddard hopes to reach their projected goal before the deadline.

"We have until March 16, 2018, to raise the additional funds, so any contribution really helps," she said.

For information or to make a donation, visit www.donorschoose.org/project/zoo-school/2838332. Individuals who make a donation will receive a receipt, as well as a tax form for the donation.

 
 

 

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