Teacher Wins $150,000, Donates Prize To School

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A third-grade teacher in Boston donated $150,000 to her school after winning an online contest.

Nicole Bollerman, a 26-year-old teacher in Dorchester, won the prize money from a Capital One #WishForOthers contest that also gifted three books for each of her students.

“I really made the wish for my students and I was blessed, lucky and thankful that Capital One gave me the opportunity,” Bollerman told ABC News today. “Since I made the wish for my students I thought I would do something to make their lives better rather than spend it on myself.”

Bollerman teaches third grade at the UP Academy Dorchester, a charter school that opened just last year.  In that year, the school has seen a successful turnaround in the achievement of its 700 students.  The once-failing school saw MCAS scores in math and English rise by the highest percentage of any school in the state’s history, reports Fred Bever for WBUR.

“I’m a third-grade teacher in a low-income, high-risk elementary school in Boston, MA. My #wishforothers is that my voracious, adorable, hardworking, loving scholars all leave for their December break with a book in their hand,” wrote Bollerman in her winning entry, according to the school’s website.

Bollerman has been working with school officials to ensure her gift goes to benefit all students at the school, including increased computer access and coding classes, which she says will “improve the lives of the children,” adding that she would like to see a greenhouse built on the roof of the school.  No commitments have been made yet concerning how to spend the money.

Capital One allowed Bollerman to choose three books for her students.  In the end, she chose “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” a class favorite, “My Father’s Dragon,” which was one her favorite chapter books as a child, and “Where the Wild Things Are,” so her students could have a picture book to share with their brothers and sisters.

Bollerman and her mother bought each child not in her class the three books as well so that all third-graders could have books to read over the December break.

Her donation received the attention of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who said:

“I want to thank Nikki for your kindness and your humility, and you are certainly a shining example of great things to the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “We are grateful for your hard work and generosity. You have inspired lots of people with your selfless act.”