The gift, funded through Donor Choose, consists of 10 Apple iPod Shuffles and headphones, for use by students who have trouble tuning out their surroundings and focusing on their work. The iPods will play classical music that, according to researchers, enhances brain function.
Huddleston, who teaches fourth grade at Eureka Springs Elementary School, applied for the grant in July. A week before the school's open house last week, she went to her application site on DonorsChoose.org and found this note from an anonymous donor:
"I gave because every child deserves an opportunity to excel at school. Your project was chosen by me as a random act of kindness and it will be funded within the next few days. Please pay it forward by donating a dollar to a random project of your choice once it is funded. Thank you."
Two days before the school's open house, Huddleston was notified the grant, valued at $778, was funded.
"I felt like an eight-year-old at Christmas," she said.
Huddleston, who is starting her sixth year at Eureka Springs Elementary, doesn't run a "sit at your desk" classroom, but one in which students move around and engage in activities. Knowing that some students struggle with focus, she looked for a way that technology could help and discovered one solution is listening to music. Students in special education will take iPods with them when they go to other classrooms, Huddleston said. The iPods will arrive within the next few weeks.
"I'm very excited -- I can't wait to get started," Huddleston said.
A New York dot-come company called Next Jump provided all but $1, which came from the anonymous donor, who included a quote from Vikas Khanna in the note: "A disability is the inability to see ability."
Khanna, host of MasterChef India, was born with a physical disability, and is the founder of two disaster relief foundations and a culinary workshop for people with visual impairments.
Huddleston said her students will write thank-you notes, and she plans to pay $20 forward -- $1 for the original gift and $1 for each of her 19 students -- through Donors Choose, an online charity that connects people to classroom needs.
"I will look for a rural school in a community with a small population and students similar to ours," she said.
According to its web site, Donors Choose funneled 3,812 donations to projects benefiting 143,647 students last week. For more information, go to www.DonorsChoose.org.