By – Nick Sheey
A year ago at this time, Desert Star Academy teacher Frank Sagasta was in dire need of resources for his students. He filled out a Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers grant application, hoping that his name would be called to receive $5,000 to benefit his students.
“We didn’t have the necessary equipment to work the podcast system and I wanted better technology in the classroom,” Sagasta said “On my application, I pushed for content, I needed content, I needed the resources so the technology was a must, the podcasting equipment, and the literature by all the greats throughout history.”
“That is like a vine of grapes from the best of best vines. I needed to get that material to share with my scholars so that was my major focus. I had no idea we would win the grant,” Sagasta said.
Created in 2016, the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers, powered by DriveTime program grants classroom wishes to teachers across the state of Arizona by granting $5,000 to 200 teachers.
The Fiesta Bowl organization saw that many teachers spent their own money to enhance their classroom experience and developed a program to aid teachers in that effort. In its three years, Wishes for Teachers granted over $2.2 million to Arizona teachers, impacting over 100,000 children across the state.
When Fiesta Bowl Charities awarded Sagasta the grant, he upgraded his classes with the additions of iPads, books, and more.
“I utilized the $5,000 in a variety of ways,” Sagasta said. “I was finally able to purchase the equipment necessary to run the podcast system last year. I also spent a great amount of that money on iPads for research to further increase ideas and topics for the podcasts, as well as for the leadership values class.”
Sagasta has been teaching at Desert Star Academy for three years and teaches classes in life skills, leadership, podcasting and technology to 6th-8th graders. The drastic change in resources has allowed Sagasta to teach a new curriculum with modern technology.
“I was not able to do any podcasting nor share the values of leadership with our students without having the proper resources such as iPads, books, microphones, and equipment that I needed for the podcasting. No way I could have done this two years ago when I came to Desert Star Academy, no way it would have been possible.”
With new podcasting equipment and updated technology, Sagasta’s podcasting class helps students find topics, stay engaged, and to speak more confidently.
“Watching them grow in confidence, that’s the return of value,” Sagasta said. “The iPads allow my students to consume content on topics they’re interested faster than ever before and then that snowballs down to the podcasting when they’re speaking and discussing these topics with new knowledge. It’s amazing to watch.”
“I’m 40-years-old now and I express this all the time, I wish I had these types of classes and resources growing up,” Sagasta said. “Thanks to the Fiesta Bowl for making it possible.”