Richmond Elementary teacher Jennifer Fagan, who turned to the website to help replace supplies damaged when a pipe burst in her classroom, said she's never met a teacher who didn't pay for items over the course of a school year.
"If they want to be effective teachers, they have to spend [their own] money," she said.
Over the past two weeks, the Daily News interviewed several teachers who have proposed Donors Choose projects, and they said they pay between $800 and $1,500 of their own money to make things better.
Here's a look at five interesting projects:
Ninth-grade English at Franklin Learning Center in Spring Garden
Kreger, 32, wants to purchase 120 copies of the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, which is thought to be among the best novels of the 20th century. The 1969 book, Vonnegut's most influential work, is a dark comedy and a satirical look at war and fatalism.
Those themes appeal to students entering high school, having been weaned on shows filled with satire and dark humor like "Family Guy," "Robot Chicken" and "American Dad," Kreger said.
Teachers say that in a world where TV, computers, movies and Twitter dominate, getting kids to read is proving more and more challenging every year.
"I'm trying to develop their love of reading with a nonconventional high-school book," he said. Classics like Jane Eyre are still wonderful, he said, but a more modern entry into literature may do the trick.
"I wanted kids to take away that writing and reading is anything that you want it to be. Kurt Vonnegut was doing something that was new then," Kreger said.
Gene Coletta Math, Philadelphia High School for Girls, Olney
Coletta, 28, specializes in geometry and algebra II for grades 9 through 11. He says in order to succeed in math, students need the right tools: rulers, protractors and graphing calculators that formulate quadratic functions and cost about $110 each. Most of his students don't have the money to buy those supplies, he said.
Right now, Coletta's small collection of protractors and rulers has to be shared among 32 students, most of whom "waste time waiting to use them," he said. The calculators have simply become outdated.
"These tools will help drastically prepare them not only for classes beyond mine, but for college as well," said Coletta, who was inspired by his own geometry teacher. "I definitely care about my students a lot and I want success for them."
Kindergarten, Richmond Elementary, Port Richmond
When a water pipe burst this summer over her classroom, Fagan, 42, and her kindergartners lost their listening center. Fagan's project aims to replace the books on tape and listening equipment destroyed by the flood.
The listening center engages students and prepares them for learning to read as they listen to a story being told, Fagan said.
"It helps them tremendously. It helps them love books," she said. "My theory is that even if they don't memorize the books, they still are exposed to the book, they're still reading, they're still noticing the pictures and the author. They're still learning."
Music, Jackson Elementary, South Philadelphia
Known around school as "Mr. A.," Argerakis, 42, needs percussion equipment to implement a world-music drumming curriculum into the school's burgeoning music program. It would fit in with the "incredibly diverse cultural diversity" - 14 languages, 29 different ethnicities - at Jackson, he said.
Last year, Argerakis introduced guitars to students, but some became bored because of the discipline required. With drumming, the kids just have to "echo" what they hear, he said.
"I know in teaching this, there's a more immediate response" with drums, Argerakis said. "There's a lot of freedom and a lot of ways to express themselves."
He also hopes to invite families to have informal family drumming circles at the school because of their importance in cultures around the world.
English as a second language, Fell Elementary, South Philadelphia
Perkins, 58, teaches students in his diverse school from such far-off locales as Nepal, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam. The kids learn English and prepare social studies and science assignments in the language they are trying to master.
Perkins proposes to buy one laptop to help his English language learners, who have to share one computer in class. Many students don't have the technology at home.
"There's not enough minutes in the day," Perkins said. "There's often three to four students trying to use one computer, taking turns and sharing. We run out of time."
"We really need half-dozen of them, but one is a start."
Contact Regina Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5985. Follow her on Twitter @ReginaMedina.