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Camera Captures School Year

Teacher Martha Richardson includes a disposable camera on her students' supply list for the year -- in return, she gives parents a photographic record of their children's school year. Included: Richardson describes her camera project.

Although many parents come to school for special programs, they often do not have time to participate in everyday classroom activities, such as group reading, holiday parties, or computer lessons. Martha Richardson, a kindergarten teacher in Grady, New Mexico, decided to capture those special moments on film for parents.

At the beginning of last school year, Richardson asked all the children to bring to school a 24-exposure disposable camera. Then, throughout the year, Richardson took photos of the children at events, such as holiday parties, as well as participating in classroom activities, including singing, reading, playing, and working on the computer. If a child created something he or she was particularly proud of, Richardson photographed that too. "They loved it," she says about the children's response to the project. "They wanted me to take their pictures all of the time."

When the cameras ran out of film, Richardson sent them home so parents could develop the film. Some parents even supplied a second camera, Richardson says. She kept some photos for a class scrapbook, but the parents were able to keep the rest.

"I got several notes at the end of the school year from parents, saying how much they appreciated it," Richardson says. "There are some neat memories. These kids were together all year and may be together through 12th grade." The school has about 135 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Robin Isler, whose daughter Jacee was in Richardson's class, says she appreciated the photographs. "I liked having her whole year in front of me," Isler tells Education World. "It made me feel like I wasn't missing anything."

Richardson plans to take pictures again this year and will supply a camera for any child who cannot afford one. "It was one of my favorite things to do," she says. "It was fun capturing those moments. They are things you can't redo."