West Michigan teacher uses GoFundMe to raise money for classroom books

Posted at 9:28 PM, Aug 19, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A teacher at Kenowa Hills Middle School is turning to a popular fundraising website to help pay for books for his classroom.

The move has paid off, raising $700 dollars so far. The money is allowing him to buy extra reading material just in time for the school year.

Ryan Koopmans has been teaching Spanish for 12 years. He turned to to help raise extra money to make sure his students had all the reading material they needed.

"As a secondary to my teaching, we have reading. It's just another way to get them to see and hear things that they can understand,” said Koopmans.

Mr. Koopmans said that reading is the key to helping visualize a foreign language and connecting it to lessons taught aloud in class.

"The bottom line is we want students who can speak and write and the best way to get them there is to provide them with things to hear and read,” said Koopmans.

Koopmans posted on the website asking members of the public to donate money for reading material that coincides with his instructing program, aimed at providing students with the best material to help retain information.

"The surprising part is when they are reading by themselves, they will notice things that they have learned in class and they start to make connections,” said Koopmans.

He’s now in his second year posting to the crowd funding page, and he’s already racked up $700 dollars.

"I was surprised not only by the $700, but by how fast it came and by just the number of different people, just totally surprised me,” said Koopmans.

Not everyone who donated to help fund his classroom was a stranger.

"Former students, parents of former students, just people willing to help me out. Try something new,” said Koopmans.

Mr. Koopmans said that instead of only being able to buy about 30 new books for students, he’s been able to get about 90 new copies of reading material that he hopes helps students be more successful. He also said that other teachers are taking notice.

"I know when I told some other teachers about it, they were definitely excited and were thinking about giving it a try for something in their own classroom,” said Koopmans.

GoFundMe said that there have been more than 4,500 fundraising campaigns for education so far this year in the state of Michigan, raising about $1.2 million dollars.