Girl donates her birthday money to save teachers' jobs

March 25, 2010 12:56:41 PM PDT
About 30,000 California teachers and school employees have received pinkslips for the fall, because of the state's budget crisis. One 10-year-old girl on the Peninsula fighting to save her teacher's job is getting lawmakers' attention, by foregoing something she had been looking forward to for two years.

Julia Qiao is a fourth grader at the Sandpiper Elementary School in Redwood Shores. When she found out her teacher Kevin Mullins got a layoff notice last week, she took action.

"I want to help my teachers. I don't want them to go," said Qiao.

Julia was planning a birthday party. She didn't have one last year because both her parents lost their jobs. So this year, she wanted it to be special. She decided there's nothing more special than saving her teacher's job. So Julia sent an invitation out to friends with a request:

"Instead of giving me birthday presents, I'm asking that they give me money so I can donate it to my school," said Qiao.

And instead of giving her friends goodie bags, Julia's mom will donate to the district's non-profit foundation in the children's names -- trying to bring all these teachers back next year.

"It's amazing for her to forego her presents at her birthday party for that reason. It's a deep understanding and really touching," Julia's teacher Kevin Mullins.

Mullins is one of 24 teachers pinkslipped in the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District, which faces a nearly $3 million budget hole. This means kindergarten through third grade class size will increase from 20 to 25 students. In addition, all librarians also got notices, along with specialists in music, math, reading and science.

Sandpiper Principal Linda McDaniel forwarded Julia's invitation to their State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, inviting him to make the girl's birthday wish come true.

"He was quite impressed with Julia's invitation. He couldn't believe that a 10-year-old wrote such a passionate letter of support for her teacher and for her school. He is trying to do everything he can in Sacramento to make a difference for us here in Belmont," said McDaniel.

Under the law, all final layoff decisions will be made by mid-May. In addition to looking to Sacramento, the district's parent-run foundation, School Force, is hoping all families will contribute.


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