30 days ago I sat down in my classroom and asked the members of the Maine Game what they wanted to do. I had finished a conversation with David Perloff about different funding sources a day or two prior, and I wanted to continue the conversation with the people that any income would impact the most.
At that point we were already committed to the non-profit selected by the members, Maine Discovery Museum, and had started our 2nd trimester curriculum. We needed funding for 2 ongoing costs: hourly wage for student teachers and transportation.
The hourly wage cost had been previously taken care of by grant money, however we were ready to reach out to businesses and to incorporate a monthly membership fee that would cover that. To be clear, the hourly wage for teaching was for senior members of the club and other people to come in and teach as opposed to myself. My vision of the club has always been and will continue to be, to allow a high school aged students to become successful at what they’re passionate about and what I can support them in. I strongly believe that a large piece of allowing students to follow their passions is to give them an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. The people teaching the club know that they won’t get rich from what I can pay them, but they will receive a paycheck.
Transportation costs have been a silent, but real cost from the beginning. Students have traveled as much as 30 minutes 1 way to come to my classroom after school every day. Keep in mind the members also came through the summer. Yes, high school students voluntarily came into my classroom almost every day through the summer. Not for a couple weeks, but the whole summer. For that fact alone, they should get some money. However, the cost of transportation impacted the club members and their families. The members either didn’t have summer jobs because they’re young and still trying to enjoy summer or worked less so they could be in my classroom. Gas and normal wear and tear costs came out of paychecks and I wanted to find a way to help. Me: a broke teacher volunteering my time; my wife: a broke social worker and together being parents of two awesome kids under 5 I knew that funding for gas needed to come from an outside source. In comes Kickstarter.
In beginning, we quickly took to what we new best: computers. A fury of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and other relevant sites took over everyone’s screens and continued to do so for the duration of the 30 day interview. Through new digital connections made and motivation found we ended up being on the news. If nothing else, the Kickstarter campaign taught us that what we were doing in the club was the right thing to do. We put ourselves out there, I put myself out there, and support was given. Family, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers supported The Maine Game. In the end 44 people dug deep and showed they believe in what we’re doing and it is incredibly encouraging.
The past 30 days have been a whirlwind of motivation, lost time, extreme highs, mild lows, in-depth conversations, social media web sites and an overall amazing experience. Tomorrow we will continue working hard on our computer science and STEM based curriculum to make video games in the club knowing that we’re supported by the general public and incredibly successful just for doing what comes easy and we’re passionate about.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone that contributed in any way that they did. It is greatly appreciated.