In two years of teaching students with special needs, I’ve learned how music can give students the opportunity to discover themselves. In our music inclusion choir, band and orchestra classes, students with disabilities make music with general education students, each at their own level of ability. I’ve seen music help even the most shy and reticent students socialize, smile and come out of their shells.
Unfortunately, we don’t always have the right kinds of musical instruments to meet the diverse needs of every kid in my class. For classrooms like mine in Chicago, specialized equipment can truly open up the learning environment. From floor keyboards to rhythm instrument sets, I’m able to ensure that every student, no matter their mobility style, has a meaningful experience in my class.
That’s why I was so thrilled to learn that Google.org was funding my request on DonorsChoose.org to bring my music inclusion project to more students. For the past month, Google.org has hosted schoolwide celebrations to honor teachers of students with special needs, and funded hundreds of DonorsChoose.org special needs projects like mine. Starting today for #GivingTuesday, Google is making it easier for everyone to support teachers by matching up to a million dollars in donations to increase inclusion, equity and opportunity for students with diverse learning styles. In addition, last week Android Pay committed to donating up to another $1 million to special needs projects on DonorsChoose.org.
There are currently 6.4 million students with special needs in the U.S.—13 percent of the total student population. Yet, a $17 billion federal deficit in special education funding leaves far too many gaps across classrooms. In fact, on average, all teachers spend $485 of their own money each year on their classrooms.
Teachers like me are working to make sure all students can have an equal and inclusive education. And you can help provide some of the materials they need most—take a look! Together, we can help make education more inclusive #ForEveryKid.