Former students and even perfect strangers are helping a Minnesota teacher who used her inheritance to buy new laptops for her students by donating money to make sure each child has a machine they can use.
Families touched by the Tracy Gripentrog's story are paying it forward to help her continue her effort to ensure each student has a state-of-the-art laptop to help them learn.
After spending her own money to buy 15 Chromebooks for her third graders at Willow Lane Elementary, Gripentrog was still six computers short of her goal of getting one for every kid in the class. Now, that goal has been met -- and surpassed.
"She's a breath of fresh air, always lights up the room," said Kathy Zaspel.
Zaspel is raising her granddaughter, who was in Gripentrog's class last year. After seeing the story of Gripentrog's generosity on FOX 9 News, Zaspel was moved to tears.
"To see what she was doing with her money, I started crying and I knew immediately what I was going to do," she said.
Zaspel and her granddaughter came to the school with a note and a check for $1,000 to go toward new computers. When they did, the crying came anew.
"It brought me to tears," Gripentrog said. "They were very special people to begin with."
The support didn't stop there. The principal's in-laws, who live in Madison, Wis., saw the story online and were so impressed by the teacher's generosity, they decided to donate the remaining six computers.
Now that Gripentrog's computer crusade is complete for her class, she's making it her mission to make sure the other two third-grade classes at the school, consisting of 40 students, get their own educational equipment as well.
"She's doing it again!" Deb Bleymeyer remarked. "She's going above and beyond what a regular classroom teacher would do. She's wonderful."
Gripentrog admits she never planned or expected any of this to happen, but considering how technology has become a crucial component of teaching and will be a facet of her students' futures, she hopes everyone will pitch in to put computers in all classrooms.
Anyone who wishes to donate to Gripentrog's goal can do so online here: http://www.donorschoose.org/project/every-child-engaged/1090763/?utm_source=dc&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=proposal_approve