By Megan Palumbo – Co-Editor-in-Chief
In Lasell’s teaching contract, a professor is allowed to go on sabbatical every 10 years. Associate Professor of Mathematics Neil Hatem has been teaching in the Lasell community for 20 years, and is just now experiencing his first one.
“I never thought about doing sabbatical,” said Hatem. “I know you can go do research or travel, but I’ve always been more of a service person.” He is co-teaching math classes at Lowell High School, Revere High School and Waltham High School, working closely with juniors to prepare for SAT exams. However, when he started working with these students, he realized many of them didn’t have their own calculators.
“I was honestly saddened and shocked [for the students]. It’s just not fair,” Hatem said when talking about his initial reactions to this problem. He took matters into his own hands and created the Calculators 4 Kids initiative, establishing a Go-FundMe campaign to collect donations. He raised around $4,500 to provide his students with calculators in time to take the SATs in May.
The donations range from as little to $5 to $120 a piece. “My daughter helped set up the GoFundMe and literally so many people helped out [donating],” he said. It started with old school networking and emailing old colleagues.” Revere High School put the link on their Facebook page and the contributions took off.
Hatem’s said his fundraising goal is $4,800, noting each TI-30XIIS calculator costs $12. When the goal amount is achieved, this means he will be able to donate a total of 400 calculators to students in need. “I knew I needed 100 for my sabbatical kids, and I wanted 300 extra [to donate],” Hatem said.
Hatem will be hosting an event at the Boston Public Library on Saturday, April 27 from 3-4:45 p.m. to distribute the extra calculators. “The first 300 students will get a free calculator which is pretty cool and hopefully will make people want to attend,” he said.
While on this unique sabbatical, Hatem focused on the bond between a teacher and a student, saying, “It was a cool dynamic. I was seeing the stage before college and the students were thankful and appreciative that I wanted to help them [as a college professor].
According to Hatem’s GoFundMe campaign description, “My cause is not so much the $12 calculator but trying to motivate and empower students to do better. By providing them with a calculator of their own, you never know where something this small may lead.”