By Noah Flack

When Rhiannon Spetrini learned that the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers program was accepting grant applications, she knew exactly what her wish would be.

Desert Trails Elementary had recently undergone renovations to its 25-year-old library, but there was still something that hadn’t undergone any change – the non-fiction section.

“If you can imagine, the books our students are using to learn about the world were published before DVDs and iPhones,” Spetrini says. “These are books that some of our students’ parents most likely used when they were in school.”

The grant was awarded at the perfect time. Last spring, Desert Trails raised money through its Parent Teacher Organization and was able to purchase new furniture for its library. The COVID-19 pandemic hit right as the furniture arrived and the students have yet to experience their newly upgraded library.

“The kids are in awe every time they get to sneak in there for something, so we are really building up that enthusiasm for the official reveal next fall,” Spetrini says. “Students are still able to check out books because of the great system the librarian has going.”

Ms. Benjamin, the school’s librarian, has narrowed down her list of new non-fiction books to complete the makeover. Once she has made her final selections, she will send it off and they will all anxiously await the books’ arrival.

“Many voices and stories published in the past decade have inspired and changed what we know about science and technology, our past and ourselves,” Spetrini says. “In a time when instant access to online materials makes it difficult to trust sources, it’s essential for students to have access to reliable information.”

This wish granted by Fiesta Bowl Charities is just one of many wishes that have come true. In the five years of the Wishes for Teachers program, the Fiesta Bowl has donated $3.7 million to nearly 850 teachers across Arizona. Wishes are varied and span across many different subjects and age groups including literacy, sensory and technology upgrades.