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Duval County teachers raising money for projects

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Updated: 10/23/2013 11:54 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Duval County teachers are taking fundraising into their own hands. There's now a new program to help them get the money they need from the community.

The 8-year-olds in Susan Burns' third grade class are thriving at Susie Tolbert Elementary School. Part of the reason is their teacher.

"When you expect a lot from a student, you will certainly get that," Burns said.

Unfortunately, Burns struggled to pull off creative projects for her students because there isn't money for all of the resources teachers need. She regularly dipped into her own pocket to pay for projects.

"Often, they would reach out themselves to private partners in the community or through their own networks. Sometimes, they would use their own funding," explained Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund just launched a new initiative -- PowerUP Jax. It allows businesses and community members to donate to projects for which teachers request funds. And that's how Burns' class was able to afford "Lights, Camera, Vegetables!"

"When you need to buy six bags of potting soil and some planting boxes, there's not really a budget line for that, so PowerUP Jax really helps fill that void," said Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar.

Third-grader Kimberly Mackoul said creative learning helps her remember the lesson.

"It's not always fun just being up there and being taught by a teacher who keeps on talking and then gives you papers and you do it quickly," said Mackoul.

It's one more thing teachers now will be adding to their "to-do" list. But Burns said the effort is worth every penny she gets back.

Vitti said many teachers were only covering content that's on the tests. He hopes this opens the door for them to try new things.

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