Christchurch school raises $40,000 for deaf teacher
Tuesday 19 Feb 2013 11:32 a.m.
Alice Woodcock (supplied)
A deaf Christchurch teacher has received $40,000 in donations toward an operation that will help her regain her hearing.
Alice Woodcock looks set to be back in the classroom at Mairehau Primary School as early as next term after a whirlwind fundraiser - which included a single donation of more than $20,000.
The 34-year-old says she can’t believe the generosity of so many.
“I feel incredibly overwhelmed. I never imagined it would get this big,” she says. “I am in awe of all the people that have reached out to help.”
Ms Woodcock lost her hearing suddenly, in a strange set of circumstances over the school holidays.
The well-loved teacher was born with limited hearing, but lost what she had over four days – and doctors don’t know why.
The sudden loss forced Ms Woodcock out of the classroom and onto a waiting list for medical intervention.
But that situation was reversed by staff at Mairehau Primary, who set up a fundraiser to gain the $40,000 needed for two cochlear implants.
Principal John Bagma couldn’t believe the widespread generosity as people heard about Ms Woodcock’s story.
"We had some from in the school but we've had [donations] from all over, I've had an email from somebody in Chicago, somebody in Australia donating and the money keeps rolling in," he says.
"Just the generosity of people - we know this is going to make a difference to her life, let alone all the kids who are going to benefit from her classes."
The effort was spearheaded by students who pitched ideas to school staff and took part in raffles, Ms Woodcock says.
“The students have been incredible, all of them have pitched in to help in a variety of ways from donating their pocket money to selling cupcakes,” she says.
“Their support has meant the world to me, it tells me what an impact I have had on them as their teacher - little do they realise that they have had a big impact on me.”
While the teacher is eligible for one Government-funded cochlear implant, the donations will fund a second. The implants will help Ms Woodcock's ears filter out sounds and establish where a noise is coming from – essential elements for teaching a class full of children.
Buildtech Director Israel Cooper, whose company was behind the single largest donation of $20,000, says the teacher's story touched everyone in their office.
"When we heard her story, we thought 'yes, it's a lot of money', but in the scheme of things it's actually not a lot of money if you can restore someone's hearing and their livelihood," he says.
"[She will] continue to impact on so many kids for so many more years. It did really seem like a no brainer to us."
Mr Cooper hasn't met the teacher yet but says the whole company would love to, once the rush of the fundraiser dies down.
Ms Woodcock is scheduled to receive both implants on Thursday and school staff are hoping she will be back in the class by next term.