While we are all in the midst of a crazy busy last week of school before holiday break, I wanted to take a minute to talk about our amazing donors and supporters. (If you are reading this right now, there is a good chance that I am talking about YOU.)
This morning I woke up to an e-mail about an anonymous donation to DAA. This is the third time this has happened. The e-mail comes from a bank and says the donor is anonymous. Each time, I call the bank and literally use every single tool in my charming/persuasive toolkit to get a note to this person or to at least pass along some note of “the school appreciates your gift.” I swear I came close to making it happen one time, but I always end up hearing "Sorry, we just can't."
I just want to squeeze this anonymous person and tell them that I use every penny of their gifts so frugally and so efficiently to deliver results for our students. I want to tell them that it is working, that we are cranking out the most impressive data and, more importantly, our students are so joyful to be at school, our families are so unyieldingly supportive, and our team working at DAA is happy and dedicated and I am in no way being hyperbolic when I say that each person working at DAA impresses me and inspires me to work harder every single day.
DAA. Is. Working. It is the real deal.
We would not be open without you all! Have you given us $25? Did you know that that went to buy crayons for a whole class? Or that it was given in the form of a gas card to a parent struggling with transportation as a reward for their student having good attendance, having their homework done, and being in uniform every day? Or that it kept our lights on when no one really believed in us yet? It did!
DAA has a few major donors that not only give their financial support, but frequently give their time to me and to DAA as a whole. That might seem like no big deal, but it leaves me gobsmacked every time.
Robin and Bill’s gift to DAA in the summer of 2013 was literally the only reason we were able to pay our security deposit on our lease. They then donated to replace stolen computers so our students could take an initial web-based assessment at the beginning of our first school year. The data this assessment gave us was invaluable for serving our students. But, in addition to this, Robin sends me texts and e-mails when she knows I am feeling down. They say “I believe in you.” Invariably, this is the one thing that picks me up and gets me back in the saddle. She sent me a stone with “I believe it you” etched in it and I leave it in my mailbox at school and look at it each day. Robin and Bill singlehandledly gave us enough supplies to have art for the entire first part of last school year and fly across the country to attend our little event and meet our kids and they love on them infinitely from afar.
Our office team and I talk endlessly about Betsy and Dave, who, in addition to giving so frequently to our school, are also responsible for 100 containers of laundry detergent, kids shoes, and kids pants just showing up at our building. (All of these things is a huge pressure/stress relief for our families at times.) This summer, they drove down to bring our families these supplies in person and joyfully smiled as our ready-for-break kids chatted with them.
Then there is Harry, who I idolize as a person to the moon and back. He had an incredibly successful career and did it while never compromising values and integrity and kindness. He will have coffee with me and listen to me jabber away for two hours, giving me the best feedback and advice and lessons from his career and I leave thinking about them and quoting them to my team for months, until I am able to have coffee with him again.
And Frank! Frank has been through the pits and back in his success. Taking over an automotive company in Detroit in the roughest part of the recession and bringing it to the top is something to be SO revered. I call him my mentor behind his back and I think he has sort of agreed to it. He gives me advice for growth, plans, and tells me plenty of cautionary tales that I mull over and over as I make decisions on a daily basis.
These are the people that have had huge roles in allowing DAA to be financially stable in our first year (when most charters close or operate at a horrible deficits)! And they are also holding my hand, coaching me, sending gifts to our kids, and sweet notes to our staff.
I don’t know how we are all so lucky to know them.
Also at the forefront of my mind are the families that have approached me and said “Listen, we want to give back. Do you have a family that might just need an extra boost?” and then proceed to send some very deserving and grateful kiddos boxes of basics (new socks, a new shirt, coats, etc.) every month. The kids wear them every day and the result is a way more stable house. This is a very serious and real impact and I say “How can I thank you?” and they say “You can’t.” They want no parades, no celebrations, they are just selfless kind people. (I am thinking of Gabrielle, Danielle, and others.)
To all of you who give monthly, or once to our fundraiser, or send us a box of crayons or a book, I need you to know how much it means and how big of a role it has played with our kids.
When a student is crying uncontrollably about something that happened at home, it is your book that I pick up to give them to read and calm down. Your box of crayons is the one we sent home so the student can have what they need to complete their homework at home. You are changing things for our students and their families and the neighborhood and the city!
Every penny you give is celebrated by me and appreciated by our team and families. We all know all your names and your notes are posted in our meeting room.
Anyway, what started as a quick blog post is now bordering on a diary entry, but I am constantly so incredibly moved by our supporters and am spending my holiday season wishing I could give each of you a longer-than-you-want hug for believing in our school. During the hug, I would totally tell you that your investment is paying off and we will continue to work tirelessly to not let you down.
Thank you. Seriously. THANK YOU.
P.S. The photo was just chosen because it makes me laugh. Our kindergarteners interviewed all DAA staff members and this was taken during my interview.