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Last night, we hosted a Twitter party about giving during the holiday season. It's a chance for us to connect with teachers, parents, and others that are passionate about education and charity. We go back and forth, sharing our thoughts about what charities we like, how we "bring learning home," and in what ways do we help support teachers in our community. Lots of great ideas were thrown out (and if you're Twitter-savvy, check them out under the #binggives hashtag).
Much of what we talked about made me think back to the Our School Needs contest, and how impressed we all were with the strong the support system around these teachers and schools. One school in particular, Beck Elementary in Reno, NV, had unwavering support from thousands of parents, educators, and the community at large. I recently spoke with one of these supporters, Trina Olsen, about her efforts to spearhead voting for their OSN finals run. Here's what she had to say:
Were your students/children excited to get involved in the Our School Needs contest? "At first, few kids had a clue what was going on, but word spread quickly with the need for ratings. When we made the semi-finals there was definitely a growing "buzz" and excitement. Pandemonium broke out when we made the finals! Everyone was talking about it... the kids, parents, teachers, and the entire community. It set the stage for our Superintendent's community forum this evening. It was titled "It takes a community" and addressed our education budget crisis in Nevada. What timing!"
What did you think of the OSN contest as a whole? Do you feel like it empowered the students to go out and get what they needed? "Although it was a ton of work during the contest, the aftermath has been extraordinary. We gained awareness to the needs of our school with this contest and now we are riding the momentum. Many of our inspired parents are pursuing other methods to accomplish our goals. It has given our community the "we have a mission" attitude."
Do you think your children have a better sense of empowerment? That they can change things for the better, even at their age? "I think they feel empowered as they watch our school rally to get what is needed after the competition. Watching the adults push so hard for this opened their eyes and definitely made them harder workers and helped them to understand that our own community can make a difference. They saw people our community push, up off their rear ends, making it happen! Yes, our kids are empowered. The kids are energized."
Did you see people come together in unique ways to build a community of support for your entry? "We saw a mountain of talent that we did not know we had within our own school community. We saw our proud Superintendent rally by our side. We saw businesses take an interest in our project and needs. We felt the love! Amazingly, we saw the grand prize winner, Greenfield Hebrew Academy, use their own donor's choose codes to help our school. They spent a tremendous amount of time hunting down those codes, typing them up, and sending them to us. It really made us see that we are all in this together. Not just in the contest, but in this country, fighting for educational needs. We felt a partnership with them, like we understood each other. We are so grateful to the Greenfield Hebrew Academy. Their codes are going to get us the technology that we are fighting for! They are great friends of education. We are inspired to see such humility and generosity as characteristics of the grand prize winning school."
How do contest like Our School Needs help create awareness for the needs in schools today? "We represent 80% of American schools. We have an old building, outdated technology, and our schools need basic stuff like carpet, copy machines, and dictionaries. This contest made a lot of people aware of the problems the schools face."
What does it mean to your children to have a big company like Bing take an interest in their future? "It was an exciting time for them and they appreciated the attention. I think it brought a lot of "big company" awareness and made them feel like they were special."
Have you started using Bing in your home? If so, what features impress you? "I LOVE the Bing search engine, especially for my kids. It is somehow still remarkably simple but BING has a unique feature of having a different photo on the homepage every day that is a way for my kids to learn! My daughter loves the homepage information and honestly, so do I."
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