Hopefully making a difference.

**Edit**  I wanted to include this before I post my letter.  I know it’s a difficult economic time.  It’s difficult for our family and I am sure it is affecting you and your family as well.  I am asking you for a donation knowing that any money you donate will be spent in the best way to make a difference for these boys.  I want you to understand that I do not make this request lightly.  I would really appreciate your consideration in donating to this program.  If you are not able or ready to donate please join our mailing list (just send me an email at KaHanke@gmail.com) to learn the latest about our program and the kids).  You can learn more about our program here.


In 2004 a group of men attempted to kill a 4 year-old Sudanese boy.  They were not successful, but they burned him badly and he still has the evidence of the horror on his arm.  His mother and father fled to the refugee camps in Egypt where their second son was born.  They came to the United States a short time later and lived in rural Pennsylvania until they moved to Rochester, MN in 2006.  This boy is named Ngor and he was in my 2nd grade class in the fall of 2006.  In the past four years the family welcomed a third son and one daughter and expects their fifth child in the next month.  Coming into my classroom, Ngor faced many challenges including being significantly below grade level and never having learned appropriate classroom behavior.  His parents also faced many obstacles such as finding work, learning English, and assimilating into American culture.  For the past four years I have supported his family by tutoring Ngor and his brother (Mabor), and providing cultural experiences from ordering, paying, and tipping at a restaurant to attending Cirque De Soleil.

Another student, Steve, has also left a lasting impression on me.  To me, the boys’ bathroom in schools is an unknown, daunting place.  However, I never imagined Steve was keeping a secret of being terrorized in the bathroom on a daily basis for over five months.  One of Steve’s classmates would physically and mentally terrorize him when Steve would fail to comply with this boy’s orders or even when he answered a question incorrectly in class.  When Steve finally broke down and confided to his mother and myself about what was happening, he admitted that he was so scared he didn’t even tell his twin brother.  We immediately took steps to keep Steve safe.  Upon reflection, it is beyond my comprehension how he held himself to the highest standard for behavior, academics, and even endless kindness to his peers while enduring the bullying.  After spending more time with his family, I discovered where he gets his courageous character.  Steve’s parents emigrated from Cameroon.  His mother and father work full time and his mother attends college with the specific goal of attaining higher paying employment for the sole purpose of sending their three sons to college.

I am currently working with these four boys – Ngor, Steve, and their brothers (Mabor and Bill).  In addition to the struggles I have highlighted above, all of these boys speak English as their 2nd language.  They learn and speak English at school and speak their native tongue at home.  English language learners face the difficult challenge of mastering a new language while at the same time learning subject area content.  They may also have teachers who are unable to effectively communicate with their parents and parents who may lack formal education.

Since the fall of 2006 I have and continue to serve the Rochester Public Schools as a 2nd grade teacher.  I have been forever changed by the intelligence, humor, courage, and perseverance of my students.  In serving a population that faces economic hardship along with other challenges I have witnessed firsthand the need of these families of  additional support.  As citizens of the world, it is crucial for us to do our part to offer support and help to each other.  This is why I created a summer tutoring program.  If I can offer a helping hand to these students I can affect positive change in the future.I have created a summer tutoring program for these students to assist them in meeting and exceeding the academic and behavior expectations of their teachers.  I meet with these boys twice a week for a total of 8 hours.  During their time with me they eat lunch, work with me individually on math and reading, read and write silently, and have time on computers working to solidify the concepts I teach.  To facilitate this time by purchasing supplies and give them the opportunity to earn rewards that will expose them to fun and educational experiences.  I have created rigorous expectations to participate in this tutoring program: students must complete homework 6 days each week, show appropriate behavior, be excited to learn, and demonstrate perseverance as they face challenges academically.The program is offered to students and families absolutely free of charge.  I am excited about the growth of the program and future possibilities.  However, I am no longer able to solely fund this program so I am asking for sponsors.  I would greatly appreciate any financial assistance you could give me as it would improve and extend the work I am doing.  The program is not registered as a non-profit organization therefore your donations are not tax deductible.  No gift is too small or large.  If 38 people donated $20 my summer program would be fully funded.

I make the following pledges about any donations received:

100% of your donation will be used to purchase supplies, necessities, and provide cultural experiences for these students.

We will buy quality products that will last, but spend and conserve the money wisely to provide the student’s with as much as possible.

With my deepest gratitude,

Kate Hanke




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One Response to Hopefully making a difference.

  1. Mama Zen says:

    This sounds like an amazing program. I participated in something similar when I taught middle school.

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