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Program provides a musical boost
The walls of Sid Carter's music classroom at Golden Isles Elementary are lined with dormant instruments of all types, all waiting quietly for a child's hands to bring them to life.

They are the tools a music teacher must have if the goal is for students to truly learn the subject.

But instruments are expensive, and school funding locally is lacking due to state funding cuts and dwindling property tax revenues.

Carter has found a tool that not only has allowed him to weather the funding storm, but also to add to his stable of resources.

He has collected thousands of dollars worth of instruments through donations from his school's Parent Teacher Association and finding good deals at yard sales.

Most, however, came from a website,

The website allows teachers around the country to earn micro grants for projects or list resources they need to supplement their classrooms when local school systems cannot afford to pay for them.

Anyone can then log on and donate to the projects they see as the most deserving.

Carter said the donations have made a huge difference in music classes, a subject cut from budgets in many school systems around Georgia.

"The more we can do this, the more music teachers can justify sticking around," Carter said. "The less of a burden we are on the school system."

Music education is important for young students because it keeps them engaged in school and offers them an outlet for some of their energy, Carter said.

He pointed to a cluster of hand drums, several guitars and a couple of keyboards he acquired by using the website.

"The more variety we have here, the better chance we have to get a student interested in learning music," Carter said.

In other classrooms, like Natalie Thomas' fifth-grade class at Satilla Marsh Elementary, donations from the website have been used to give students a leg up on the new common core curriculum.

"I have gotten things as simple as regular school supplies to a $600 cubby system for my students," Thomas said.

This year, she has asked for games tailored for the new curriculum designed to boost achievement by making learning fun.

They are resources she could not afford otherwise, Thomas said.

As a teacher for five years, Thomas has only known a school system that is strapped for cash, so she has been using the website since she began her career.

"There is no way I would have been able to afford this stuff otherwise," Thomas said.

So far, the games she has received have given her students an advantage over those in classrooms without them, she said.

"It is so much easier to learn when you are having fun," Thomas said.

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