GREENFIELD — Tacked to a board, surrounded by twinkling lights, teachers’ wishes beckoned passers-by to give.
The Greenfield Central School Foundation’s annual Red Letter Gala serves many purposes. It’s a chance to recognize successful alumni, to raise funding for the foundation and to connect teachers with resources that make learning fun for students.
This year, teachers across the district’s eight schools submitted 58 requests for supplies and tools they know will enhance student learning but the district’s budget can’t support. The wishes are varied: from subscriptions to educational websites to books for classroom libraries.
Every year, those who suit up for the event give a little extra, pulling out their checkbooks to grant those wishes. To date, community members have given more than $40,000 toward funding teacher requests, said executive director Ginny Brown.
Saturday, 48 of those wishes were granted, Brown said.
Greenfield-Central Superintendent Harold Olin said he often gets asked about school funding. Curious minds want to know where school money goes and why the district can’t buy some of the supplies teachers need.
Ninety percent of the school’s general fund — some $30 million — goes toward salaries, Olin said. While there is some money set aside for supplies, the district can’t afford many of the tools teachers want to provide their students, he said.
Every wish is geared toward filling a gap for students. Educators request games that reinforce the lessons students are trying to master, books to encourage students to read for pleasure and special seating for students who have a hard time sitting still.
The foundation, with the help of community members who want to give, steps in to make those things possible, Olin said.
This year, several teachers requested alternative seating options for their fidgety students.
Sara Beasley, a third-grade teachers at Harris Elementary, asked for a set of six stability ball chairs. Experts say the chairs help improve balance and core strength while allowing students to move and release some energy without causing disruptions.
In her request, Beasley wrote, “As a teacher, I am consistently reflecting on what I can do to better meet the diverse needs of my students. This year, I know I have students who struggle to learn while sitting still. I truly think this type of seating … would make a big difference for my students who just need a little movement.”
Kris Proper, a sixth-grade teacher at Maxwell Intermediate, asked for five iPod Touches to use with the Google Cardboard Expedition app.
The devices, paired with Google Cardboard glasses, will allow students to go on virtual field trips, she wrote. The app can take students to Antarctica or the International Space Station without ever leaving the classroom.
A teacher who wished to remain anonymous asked for $1,300 to purchase two books for every student at Harris Elementary School. The teacher planned to match donations up to $1,300.
School board president Retta Livengood said the supplies and tools teachers ask for aren’t wildly expensive, but they make a difference for students, and usually, they can be used year after year, making them a worthy investment for generous community members.
“Our teachers know what they need in their classrooms,” she said. “These are little things, but they have big impact.”