Michelle Obama is spreading some holiday cheer, surprising students and teachers of an elementary school in Washington with a gift of $100,000, computers and a new basketball court courtesy of TV host Ellen DeGeneres.
In the segment of “Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways,” the former first lady paid a visit to the Randle Highlands Elementary School in the southeast part of the city.
“Obama!” one little girl shouts out in excitement when Obama drops by her computer lab class.
“I stood still, I could not move,” Principal Kristie Edwards says of her shock in seeing the former first lady.
Obama presents Edwards with a gift box filled with $100,000 from DeGeneres, saying the money is “to help you cover whatever expenses that you have for the school, whether it’s for the food pantry or whether it’s computer programs.”
“We hope that this will make sure that you won’t have to go into your pockets any longer for these kids because we know how amazing you guys are,” Obama says.
Later in the video, Obama also announces gifts for a brand new outdoor basketball court, new Apple computers for the school, new laptops for the teachers, and iPads for each student.
“When I look out at all of you, I see a room full of future doctors and teachers and engineers and presidents. And I want to make sure you have the tools you need right now,” Obama told the crowd of students and teachers gathered at the school’s gymnasium.
The students jumped up and down, clapping their hands at the news. One of the teachers is seen in the video moved to tears, mouthing the words, “Thank you.”
According to the school’s demographics, 98% of the students are black and 100% of the student body is economically disadvantaged.
Sixty-five percent of the school’s students are in foster care or are homeless, according to Edwards.
In the video, Edwards explains that all students receive free lunch and the school is equipped with a washer and dryer because “oftentimes our students may not have clean clothes to wear.”
Edwards says her teachers take families grocery shopping and pay out of pocket for school supplies.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost all public school teachers — 94% — have spent some of their own money on school supplies without reimbursement. In schools where 75% or more of the students participated in free or reduced-price lunches, teachers were spending, on average, $554 on school supplies, adding to the financial burdens many educators face.
Shayne Wells, a spokesperson for DC Public Schools, thanked Obama, DeGeneres and Apple for the “generous gift to our future doctors, teachers, engineers, artists, and presidents.”
Wells added that the city has launched an initiative that aims to provide each student in grades 3-12 with a personal technology device over the next three years.