ORWELL TOWNSHIP — Think about it … $100,000.
That’s “1” with not just a single zero, or a couple zeroes … but five.
 If you piled up 100,000 dollar bills, the stack would be almost 51 feet high, give or take. That’s about as tall as a five-story office building. Give or take.
One local organization has raised, then given out, that much money to help students in an area school district. And it’s not stopping now.
The Northeast Bradford Education Foundation (NEBEF) recently reached $100,000 in money distributed to provide items and services for students in that district. The foundation exists to do just that — purchase special items, programs and activities to support their education.
Over the years, the things it’s provided include novels, sheet music, music instruments, computerized babies for the child development class, graphing calculators, tennis court lighting, accelerated reading books and the “Rachel’s Challenge” assembly. And more.
The NEBEF takes in money through fundraisers and donations.  Then teachers or staff members submit grant requests for items to the foundation. If the foundation board OKs the requests, the employees can buy the items.
“We are in a great partnership with the school,” NEBEF President Fay Brink said. “As volunteers with deep loyalties to Northeast Bradford, we work hard at our fundraising efforts. This enables us to fund projects for the school or make purchases that teachers need for a classroom that are outside the current budget.”
Brink adds that “$100,000 is a lot of money for the foundation to funnel through NEB these past few years. I had never thought that much about it until it was brought to my attention as we hit that mark. We could not do this level of funding activity if it were not for the generosity of our local community and some corporate sponsorship from places like the Towanda Gun Club and Talisman Energy, to name just a few.”
The grant pushing the foundation over the $100,000 mark provided 25 Nook brand E-readers, priced at $2,875, for Dan Martin’s reading students. These are small computerized devices, about 5 x 8 inches, which let students read entire books on their screens. Martin, who teaches seventh- and eighth-graders, buys electronic versions of books then downloaded onto the Nooks.
He still has physical books in his classroom —  stacks of green readers are piled on shelves by the window and copies of “The Giver” by the chalkboard await eager young hands. But E-readers are a hot thing right now.
They can save money. For example, “The Runaway King” would be $17 in hardcover, $5 in paperback, Martin explains. But an E-book license for that title provides five copies for $10 – in effect, $2 a book.
Students catch on quickly. “I don’t have to teach a kid to use this,” Martin states. Even if a youngster doesn’t understand it at first, he learns in about five minutes.
The Nooks also have built-in dictionaries, which are quicker to use than a physical one.
Northeast students have raised money to buy E-books for the Nooks by wrapping Christmas presents at the Vestal, N.Y., Barnes and Noble book store. “So we can buy them and load them right onto here,” Martin explains. The school also provides funds for E-books.
The Nooks run on batteries that last about a week. Students do not take the Nooks out of the classroom.
Superintendent Heather McPherson originally submitted the grant request for Martin’s E-readers, with the support of librarian Amy Johnson and curriculum director Amy Martell.
“What we were looking for was ways to motivate reluctant readers … kids that don’t necessarily enjoy reading,” McPherson explains.
Martin shares that vision. “I want kids to love reading!”
And his do. Thanks to the Nooks.
Recently, he had students read just part of the popular “Divergent” series. “And then I left them hanging!”  Well, some of them couldn’t stand that. So – “they went out and got it,” on their own to finish the story.
A seventh-grader got caught up in “The False Prince” in his class. “And she told me she went to Barnes and Noble and bought it and read the whole thing!” he reports.
“I appreciate the foundation,” and its vision, he says.
The superintendent would like to try E-readers in the elementary school, too.
Since approving the E-readers grant, the foundation has also provided money for Scholarship Challenge team buzzers, a document camera, cymbals, a refrigerator, Chrome Books and calculators. Those items pushed its funding mark to almost $108,000. A Chrome Book is a type of laptop computer that connects to the Internet very quickly.
McPherson is glad for the NEBEF’s support. “They have in every way been supportive of our academic program,” she says. It “generally allows us to get things immediately.”
“It gives our kids a foot up.”
Brink enjoys keeping in touch with Northeast through the foundation. He and his three sons graduated from Northeast High School, and his wife, Pat, also an NEBEF trustee, taught 35 years in the Northeast Elementary School. “Although it may sound like a cliché, it does give us the opportunity to give back during our retirement years,” he says.
“I think the future of the foundation is limited only by our own involvement and ability to lead the effort forward.”
And any help is welcome.
“Greater community involvement would surely be helpful in many ways,” he adds. “We are entering our eighth year and are just hitting our stride. Our average trustee is 40 years removed from high school and we could probably benefit organizationally with some youth being added to our committees. We certainly welcome any new members to the foundation.”