Teacher: Linda Sullivan
School: Starlight Elementary School
As a teacher of over 20 years, Linda Sullivan knows just how valuable $5,000 can be to a classroom and an entire school.
“The needs of a school classroom are endless,” explained Sullivan, a fourth-grade teacher at Starlight Park Elementary in Phoenix. “It’s hard to know where you start and where you end.”
Sullivan was awarded $5,000 from the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program and chose to start with a need that was school-wide and also a problem that was close to home.
“When we were growing up, my sister wasn’t given glasses until she was in second grade,” said Sullivan. “By that time, a student can be so far behind peers in terms of reading ability.”
Throughout her teaching tenure, Sullivan has seen a similar problem in her classrooms.
“I had a little girl in my classroom who couldn’t see and would hold the paper an inch away from her face,” explained Sullivan. “Many other students are the same way and when the opportunity came up for me to apply, my only thought was about how awesome it would be if I could buy all these students glasses.”
With the money, Sullivan purchased glasses for 60 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Starlight. Teachers throughout the school recommended students who had poor eyesight and were without glasses or their pair was broken.
“The grant impacted the entire school,” Sullivan explained. “Sometimes a student’s family just financially can’t afford glasses and when you are teaching students who can’t see, it affects their learning. It is a huge issue we see in schools.”
From the moment a fellow staffer saw her wish granted live on Good Morning Arizona to fitting each student with custom-picked glasses, Sullivan’s wish was a true community effort. With the help from America’s Best Eyeglasses, students chose from over 100 frames to find a pair of glasses that would make them feel comfortable and enhance their learning in the classroom.
“The service America’s Best provided was unbelievable,” exclaimed Sullivan. “So many different teachers, kids and parents were involved so it was just a really neat experience.
Once all the students received their glasses, Sullivan was able to use her leftover money to address another issue in her school.
“Attendance is a big problem here,” said Sullivan. “We had 13 kids with perfect attendance and we were able to buy each one a bike and the students who missed less than two full days also got a prize of some sort.”
Like Sullivan, teachers from across Arizona were awarded $5,000 through the Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program and teachers could spend their money on the needs specific to their school and classroom.
“I think this is such an amazing program,” said Sullivan. “It allows teachers to have the freedom to do what we feel is needed to help kids. There is never enough money in education.”
“I am definitely a fan of this program,” said Sullivan. “The Fiesta Bowl handled everything perfectly. It was amazing.”