Friday night, four major networks, including ABC, will air a special program to launch a national education initiative called Think It Up, and one Valley teacher will be in the spotlight.
Eva Gilliam is a science teacher at Crestview High School, a public charter school in Phoenix. And, according to her students, she always goes above and beyond to inspire them.
“She’s just an amazing teacher,” according to junior Jasmine Torres, “she goes out of her way to find out what the students want, what the students need. She makes it happen.”
Senior Zachary Benner said her teaching has helped give him hope. “It helped me believe that I can actually do something in school, it helped me believe that I can actually pursue a college education,” he said.
Gilliam often struggles to get the funding she needs to get her students interested in science.
“We have budget constraints,” she said, “and there’s so much that we can do, but we just don’t have the facilities or the materials, so I look for ways in which I can inspire the kids.”
Gilliam has posted projects on a site called Donors Choose, and has gotten more than $7,000 worth of goods for kids in her classroom, she said.
Now, she’s excited to work with ThinkItUp.org.
“It’s a really great opportunity for [the students] because I’ve done my job in inspiring them, now they get to inspire others,” Gilliam said.
Think It Up allows students from 7th to 12th grade to come up with projects they want to complete, with the help of a teacher, and post it to the website. Then, people can donate to the project so the kids can carry it out.
Major donors, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, can then match those donations.
The Think It Up event Friday night will be packed with celebrities, performances and fundraising for the initiative.
Gilliam said her students already have a project they would like funded – to study marine life. And that, she said, is why she’s a teacher in the first place.
“Watching the kids learn, those ‘Aha’ moments, where they just light up, is the best part of my day,” she said.