Dear friend of GEF,

What does your gift to GEF do for the students of GISD? Let me tell you a story about how you have affected thousands of lives.

I am a proud Ball High graduate from the Class of 1998. Beyond preparing me academically, Ball High equipped me with the social intelligence to thrive in our world, a place rich in diversity in every sense of the word: culturally, racially, socially, and economically. Upon graduation, I earned my master’s degree in communications. After trying on a few different careers, I ultimately discovered my passion for teaching and obtained my master’s degree in education.

Today, I teach aquatic science at Ball High and love walking the halls every day of my alma mater. It’s a regular reminder of how much GISD has impacted my life and how dear this island is to me. Thanks to supporters like you, I have been able to give my students more experiences than I could have ever imagined.

Upon my hire at Ball High, I realized a modern, fully-operating class set of microscopes did not exist on our campus. This sparked some questions. I wondered, “Why don’t I have the equipment I need?” I discovered that, because of our high property values, the State of Texas redistributes our wealth to other districts through the “Robin Hood” plan. This creates a gap between how much funding is received and what is necessary. Even so, my fellow teachers and I are expected to perform, and our students are expected to achieve.

My next questions were, “How do I teach science without microscopes? How can we label a student as college-ready and send them off knowing the first time they’ll look through a microscope lens will be in their Biology 101 lab?” Thankfully, because of the generosity of donors like you, GEF was able to say, “You don’t have to.”

As a teacher, grants for classroom projects are hard to find and even more difficult to receive. I applied for and received a grant from GEF to purchase 43 digital microscopes for our science department. For most of my students, it was the first time they’d ever seen something so small. The microscopes brought to life abstract concepts they’d previously only discussed. This equipment gave all of my students the same opportunity to be successful. Your investment in my students confirmed for them that they were smart a

nd important. It wasn’t just about science; it was, and is, about exposing students to a new world of opportunities.

Your gift makes the impossible possible for the teachers and students of GISD. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


Zahrah Ektefaei Ball High School Aquatic Science Teacher