First-year Hillsborough teacher turns to crowdfunding to help students

"I want to prepare my students for life," says the young educator, new to Tampa Bay.

Nichole Chaffee is a first-time teacher in Hillsborough County and created a Go Fund Me page to help with school supplies (WFLA)

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — She’s got passion, energy and a non-stop positive attitude. There’s no doubt, this new Hillsborough teacher has big dreams for her students.

Nichole Chaffee, 30, is a first-time teacher in Hillsborough County and can’t stop smiling about her job educating fifth-graders at Lanier Elementary in Tampa. She beams as she talks about her new students. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world,” Nichole told 8 On Your Side Monday.

This young educator just moved to Tampa and can’t wait to get started. She speaks passionately when she talks about her new career in her new city, saying, “I just moved here in July and I’m so excited to be a part of it. This is such a positive community and very student-focused.”

After spending a summer doing volunteer work with orphans in Morocco, Nichole realized she wanted to change the world one child at a time. “I knew I was making a difference, so it’s like that with my students, just by helping one and helping one grow,” she shared. For her birthday this year, she told her parents and friends all she wanted was help to fund her dream – buying small laptops for her new students in Tampa.

Indeed, this new Hillsborough teacher has big dreams, but admits her goals are on a small salary. A first-year teacher’s salary in Hillsborough County is roughly $38,000, according to the district. She says it’s tough. But, you won’t find a pity-party here. This energetic young woman decided to be what she calls, resourceful, and created a Go Fund Me page to help with school supplies.

Click here to visit Nichole Chaffee's Go Fund Me page
Click here to visit Nichole Chaffee’s Go Fund Me page

Nichole says she realized the importance of a global education and wants to give that to her 5th graders at Lanier Elementary. She wants to prepare them for our technology-based world, she says, by providing her students with small laptops, hoping that she can reach her goal of changing young lives. She would like to provide her students with Chromebooks. “I want them to be able to connect with children in other countries, learn coding, learn the world, pique their interest in computers because we are a technology society.”

As for people who may call her school supply wish-list luxury-oriented or extravagant? “There is a goal here. The district’s mission is to prepare students for life. Computers are a huge part of our lives,” she said.

School leaders in Hillsborough say the 15,000 teachers in the county receive nearly $3.5 million in funding for school supplies to be divided among them. Also, if teachers need additional school supply dollars, they can receive it through a program that is based on their hiring date. Through this program, teachers can shop at a consignment-style store for free, the district says. For those who don’t meet the requirements of the hire-date, they can volunteer in the program to earn points to then, shop for free. Those interested should contact the Hillsborough Superintendent’s Office in Tampa.

As for Nichole, her heart is full, and her spirits are high. She can’t wait to see her students next week, and she is hoping to provide them with the global education they deserve.

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