New Classroom Materials After Item Was Stolen, Students Leave Teacher Speechless

Teacher Melissa Martin was devastated when a costly Ozobot went stolen from the Tom Daniels Elementary Challenge Lab, but it turned out to be motivating for two of her fourth-grade pupils.

Ozobots are technical instruments that are used to educate kids how to code in the STEM Lab.

Kinley Starr and Novalee Deaton, fourth-grade STEM Lab students, realized they had to contribute after hearing about the tragedy.

“Our homeroom teacher, Ms. Roberts, told us that the bot was missing and we knew she was going to be disappointed,” Kinley said. “It was a very expensive thing and she was going to be sad because she didn’t have enough for everyone.”

Novalee said she quickly thought of ways to assist when she first heard about the missing bot, but plans didn’t come together until she met up with her buddy Kinley.

“I just thought to myself that I wanted to try and raise money to get that back. It was just a small thought while I was in class,” Novalee said.

Then she and Kinley got together while they were getting ready for their next class and devised a strategy, or at least an initial plan.

“It started off as a lemonade stand idea, but it was freezing,” Novalee said.

They decided to bake cookies with the aid of Novalee’s mother, Megan.

The girls gathered at Novalee’s house on Saturday morning to prepare cookies. They sold them door to door and made $27, but they needed more.

Ambra, Kinley’s mother, was asked whether she may bake extra cookies, according to Kinley.

“I asked her if she wanted to go door-to-door or if she wanted me to post it on Facebook,” Ambra said. “She told me to go ahead and post it.”

Ambra posted a quick social media post before heading to the supermarket to replenish her groceries.

“By nine o’clock, I knew they were going to need more,” Ambra said.

Novalee then went over to Kinley’s house, where the girls worked all day to complete their orders.

Before traveling to the grocery to restock her groceries, Ambra made a brief social media post.

“We went to some houses, like Novalee’s upstairs neighbor, he’s vegan, and he gave us money, but didn’t want the cookies,” Kinley said.

The girls received a lot of support on Facebook from people who wanted to donate but didn’t want the cookies or couldn’t obtain them since they were from out of town.

“We took like 150 cookies to the Kerrville Police Department and delivered the rest,” Ambra said.

Melissa Martin, who leads the campus Gifted and Talented and Enrichment program, as well as the Challenge Lab and STEM Lab, was thrilled to receive the money from the girls.

Ambra, on the other hand, decided that informing Tom Daniels Elementary Principal Amy Billeiter that the girls were bringing that much money to school was the wisest course of action.

“I e-mailed Mrs. Billeiter Sunday night, because I didn’t want $500 in either one of their backpacks,” Ambra said. “I just thought that might be a recipe for a potential disaster.”

Ambra informed Billeiter that she would bring it into the office the following Monday morning.

“I walked the girls into the office and Mrs. Billeiter was waiting. She told the girls ‘Let’s just do it now’,” Ambra said. “So, we grabbed Nova’s mom and found Mrs. Martin.”

Mrs. Martin seemed reluctant when she entered the room, according to the girls.

“She told us ‘I’m very curious right now’,” Kinley said. “She knew it was a surprise, but didn’t know if it was a good surprise or a bad surprise.”

The girls revealed that they had made cookies to gather money to replace the lost “bot” in a touching moment that brought tears to Martin’s eyes.

“I was walking out to my morning crosswalk duty at 7:30 a.m. when Mrs. Billeiter, our Principal, asked me to come inside. When we got to my classroom door Novalee and Kinley and their moms were waiting there,” Martin said. “We walked in my room and Mrs. Billeiter told me the girls had something to tell me, which they then did and handed me an envelope with $526 inside. I was utterly speechless and moved to tears. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of generous families donate materials, but never students who took such initiative. I thanked the girls for their amazing generosity and their moms for creating such outstanding young humans.”

Martin said that Ozobots are little robots that are utilized for two forms of coding: line and color codes, as well as Blockley, a computer language that she utilizes with her third through fifth grade children for a number of cross-curricular applications.

“Novalee and Kinley’s families are evidence of what it takes to grow purposeful humans. It is my honor to play a small role in their educational journeys,” Martin said.

The girls were able to not only replace the lost “bot,” but also purchase additional equipment to improve the STEM and Challenge Labs.

“We just spent lunches in her room and we looked at Amazon and a bunch of places,” Kinley said. “Me and Nova were teamed up and Mrs. Martin was looking up stuff and we bought things that can be used in any of her groups.”

“We spent every single bit of the money we raised on those things for the lab,” Novalee said.

Kinley and Novalee both answered “hard work pays off” when asked what they learnt from the experience.

When asked how they felt about what they done for Martin, the girls expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to assist.

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