School: Rogers Ranch
Grade: K-12 special education
“At this point, I don’t know what I would do without everything I was able to buy,” said Jessica Fatina a special education teacher at Rogers Ranch.
After earning a $5,000 grant from Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers, Fatina was able to fill her special education classroom with sensory and manipulative materials that have made a world of difference to her students.
“This equipment has helped teach my kids with counting, motor skills and language function,” explained Fatina. “They are able to control themselves better, their thought processes and body behavior, allowing them to learn in a typical classroom environment.”
Counting and twisting blocks, sensory machinery, play-doh, sand and a trampoline were just a few of the materials that Fatina was able to purchase. This equipment allows students to take a break when they are feeling overwhelmed, even if that means going to the back of the room to use the manipulatives and return to class once they are refocused.
“There are a lot of things that people aren’t always aware of that we need for these students to be successful in this learning environment,” said Fatina. “They are now able to work through their challenges and come back ready to learn.”
As a result, Fatina’s new materials have transformed her classroom.
“I am able to send more of my kids off,” she explained. “They have improved in so many ways, including body behavior, so they are ready to go to a typical classroom and participate. This broadens their learning environment too.”
The Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers has granted teachers $5,000 each to enhance classrooms across Arizona through the extra resources generated through the program. The winning teachers were also invited to the Cactus Bowl (now Cheez-It Bowl) at Chase Field and were recognized on the field during the game.
“It was so exciting,” said Fatina. “I met so many interesting people and heard a lot of moving stories about how this money impacts not only the students but the teachers and the schools as well.”
In the program’s second year, there was a 75 percent increase in applications, with submissions from over 110 cities across the state.
“Not all people realize how much teachers put into their classroom,” said Fatina. “To be able to have this amount of money awarded to us and to be able to make an even bigger impact as a result made me emotional.
“This is hugely important,” said Fatina. “I look back on what I didn’t have and, as a special education teacher, I look around my room and a lot of what it contains is from the Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers program. I am so excited for those that will be the winners this year and I wish them luck.”