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Brooklyn schoolteacher takes students to pricey American Girl Doll store

Published: Friday, June 21 2013 3:20 p.m. MDT

Rob Robinson, a fifth-grade teacher, took 27 fifth-grade girls from Brooklyn to have a doll experience at the New York American Girl store.

21 girls of color to American Girl

Rob Robinson, a fifth-grade teacher at Public School 28 in Brooklyn, now knows all there is to know about American Girl Dolls.

But he hasn't always been that way. In fact, it was when several young girls were talking in his class about the American Girl store that he was first introduced to the popular high-end retail store, according to Today.com.

Robinson overheard the girls describing the location as a place to buy matching clothes for a girl and her doll, where they can both get pampered.

It was then that he heard one girl exclaim, "I know about this place. Only white girls can go there."

Taken aback from what he heard, Robinson wanted to make the situation right, and clarify that the store was for everyone. In order to help prove his point, Robinson then told the girls that he would take all of them to the shop in order to enjoy the entire American Girl experience.

What Robinson didn't know was exactly how much just one doll would cost — more than $100. After realizing that purchasing the girls a doll would have a hefty price, and with about 80 percent of his students qualifying for the federal free lunch program, Robinson knew he would have to find the money elsewhere. But Robinson was determined.

"Here [was] an opportunity to turn around the thinking of little girls when they are thinking of image," he told Today.com.

Turning to the Internet, Robinson created a website, "21 Girls of Color to American Girl NYC" as a site for donations. Within five weeks, Robinson raised $14,000 for the number girls who wanted to participate, ending with a total of 27 girls.

The website gave a detailed description of the girl’s experience:

“Dressed in summer dresses, summer hats, sandals and mini-fascinators. Manicures and pedicures done. Age appropriate lip gloss and makeup done by two certified and talented makeup artists. By limousine. With their own personal photographer and videographer. With two etiquette workshops under their belts. In shades. Each with their own American Girl Doll that looks like them.”

The event took place on June 13 and was something all involved will remember.

"When they walked into the American Girl place, they lost their minds," Robinson told Today.com. "They walked differently, their shoulders were squared, and it was amazing to see that. And they believed they belonged there or anywhere else."

After having a positive experience, Robinson wants to continue planning such trips for his students. Robinson believes that such experiences will help his students to think that "they can still ascend to any level they want to."

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