Teachers stunned by donation, GMA coverage

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A big surprise for teachers at one West Haven school, and it was all broadcast live on Good Morning America. The national TV coverage was not even the best part, however.

This was really about a big donation to help the Carrigan Middle School and 20 different teachers. However, when those teachers came to work this morning, they thought only one of them would hear good news today.

“They think we’re getting something,” said Principal Richard Weber, who was in on the surprise. “They don’t know exactly what we’re getting.”

Principal Weber told them News 8 was coming to do a story on their efforts to get classroom supplies through DonorsChoose.org. Yale graduate Charles Best started the website.

“When I graduated from Yale, I was a history teacher at a public high school in the Bronx,” Best said. “My colleagues and I would spend a lot of our own money on school supplies.”

Related Content: Connecticut takes part in National School Choice Week

Teachers can ask for anything from paper to computers on the website, and donors choose who to help. The teachers at Carrigan were told only one of them would get what they asked for. They did not know that folks from the website spent the morning gathering all the supplies they asked for behind a curtain on the auditorium stage.

I’ve never lied to my staff, but I think this was a no-brainer to tell a white lie,” said Principal Weber.

The first lie was revealed when all the teachers and students gathered in the auditorium found themselves live on Good Morning America with TJ Holmes. The 20 teachers stood on risers in front of the stage with large cardboard boxes in front of them.

“They [are] going to open their boxes and whoever has the balloons in their box, that teacher’s project on DonorsChoose is going to be fully funded,” Holmes explained to a national audience.

That is when the other lie was revealed. On the count of three, 20 teachers opened their boxes, and 20 sets of balloons popped out. All of the teachers got everything requested.

“You know, our principal kind of told us there was some kind of excitement, some surprise, but we had no idea,” said teacher Donna Pitts, after she was interviewed live on GMA. “Teachers all across the country are pulling money out of their pockets for the things in the classroom and we just can’t do it.”

“I was trying to complete a class set of Chromebooks just to personalize the education for my students,” said teacher Michael Bartone about his project. “We were also trying to get some flexible seating for the classroom.”

DonorsChoose paid for all of it to celebrate its one millionth project funded. The organization also threw in another $25,000 for whatever else the teachers and school need.

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