Miami-Dade teachers get what they need in flash-philanthropy push

Miami Central Senior students in teacher Anais Young’s class use a green screen she purchased thanks to donations on DonorsChoose.Org.
Miami Central Senior students in teacher Anais Young’s class use a green screen she purchased thanks to donations on DonorsChoose.Org. Courtesy Photo

Actor Samuel L. Jackson did it. So did tech billionaire Bill Gates and New York Knicks basketball player Carmelo Anthony.

Across the country on Thursday, teachers had their classroom wishes granted by actors, atheletes and businessness people in an act of flash-philanthropy that even reached Miami-Dade.

Donors adopted whole cities and states, and funded every project in that area listed on It’s a website just for teachers and students looking to raise money for classroom needs. The effort was dubbed #BestSchoolDay.

More than 100 projects were paid for in Miami-Dade, thanks to about $75,000 from Bob Moritz, chairman and senior partner PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One of the most expensive projects will bring a 3-D printer to teacher Anais Young’s Visual Arts class at Miami Central Senior — a $4,000 gift.

Young said she was shocked speechless when she saw the project was funded.

“The kids said, ‘Miss are you ok?’ All I could say was, ‘Guys. Look.’ I put it on the projector,” Young said. “All of the students are already researching what they can do.”

Young estimates she has raised $16,000 on Donors Choose for everything from airbrushes to Kindle e-readers and scanners. The idea for a 3-D printer seemed “a little extravagant” but Young decided to try anyways after students asked for one.

At a school known more for football — Nike recently donated cleats to the team — Young said her kids get a boost every time she gets a project funded.

“When they see somebody donating for an art room, they’re shocked to see somebody cares for them,” Young said. “These people make a lot of money but they’re sharing the wealth and sharing with kids, and they didn’t really think that, that was done.”

With the surprise donation from Moritz, who the company website says lives in the state of New York, the wrestling team at Miami Sunset Senior High got helmets and uniforms worth $3,500. One third-grade teacher at Tropical Elementary school will be taking her class on a trip to Miami Seaquarium as a reward, worth about $1,600, for getting through the standardized testing season. Other requests granted in Miami-Dade include lots of iPads, cameras, sports equipment, books and even a (virtual) trip to Mars.

Jovana Maximilien, a science teacher at Hammocks Middle in West Kendall, finally got the 3-D Google glasses she was hoping for. At a cost of about $500, the cardboard glasses can be used with a cell phone to transport kids to the Red Planet – or Africa or the bottom of the sea.

“The kids are pretty much going to be able to go on a virtual rollercoaster and land on Mars,” she said. “I know they’re going to flip when they see it.”

Christina Veiga: 305-376-2029, @cveiga