Downtown School Teacher Digs Beyond the ‘Fun’ in Fundraising

Downtown School teacher Dana Allen listens to one of her students read an essay he wrote about heart disease.

Downtown School teacher Dana Allen listens to one of her students read an essay he wrote about heart disease.

Students at the Downtown School recently raised almost $10,000 for the American Heart Association.  They were given small “Lifesaver Pups” with heart healthy messages as an incentive to raise certain amounts or use online fundraising.  The students were very excited about earning the two-inch puppies.

So excited, 9 and 10 year-old learning group teacher Dana Allen decided it was time to bring the focus back to the people they were trying to help.  So she put her students to work.

“It was the perfect opportunity for a persuasive essay,” said Mrs. Allen.

She challenged the students to research and write about heart disease and the American Heart Association, and told them they would be presenting their essays to the American Heart Association.

Laynie Madden, 9, said digging into what the American Heart Association was all about opened her classmates’ eyes.

“We learned about how many people die of heart disease, and that it’s really important to donate,” Madden said.  “You could wake up one day and have heart disease.”

The more the students researched, the more they realized many of them knew someone with heart disease or other heart conditions.

“It took the focus away from the pups and why those mattered so much to us, and it turned the focus to what our money was truly going to and understanding why we were donating,” said Mrs. Allen.

To take it a step further, Mrs. Allen invited Amy Knoll, area Youth Market Director for the American Heart Association, to hear the students read the essays aloud.

Knoll, who is used to talking to kids at assemblies, said she was happy to come and interact with individual students.

“It was amazing,” Knoll said. “I was so impressed and blown away by what these kids have learned, the time they put into it.”

The work also caught the attention of Downtown School Teacher Leadership coach Amanda Clark.  She is proud of what Mrs. Allen accomplished taking her students’ real world experience and transforming it into an authentic learning opportunity.

“This truly captures the spirit of what it means when we say Mrs. Allen is a demonstration teacher and trailblazer,” Clark said.

Published on