By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Gordon Sadler finds some types of smooches "swinetastic."
How far would you go to raise badly needed funds for your school? Would you audition for a reality show? Kiss a pig? Play cow chip bingo?
Squeezed by budget cuts, teachers are going above and beyond to provide the basics for students. Of course they should not have to do these things. Our state should be providing schools with enough money to educate children and prepare them for the future, which is why CTA is backing an initiative to raise revenue for schools.
Until then, desperate times call for desperate measures, and we salute CTA members’ creative spirit when it comes to raising badly needed money for their schools.
Puckering up to a pig is “swinetastic”
Math teacher Gordon Sadler has been the reigning champion of the “Kiss the Pig” competition at Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp for the past three years.
Students set up a “Kiss the Pig” jar in the classrooms of brave teachers willing to participate, and then put money in the jars of teachers they would like to see “win.” The teachers with the most money in their jars are the winners. The first-place winner kisses a pig, the second-place winner kisses a goat, and the third-place winner kisses a chicken.
This year, Sadler came in second and kissed a goat for the first time. The first-place winner, an English teacher, chickened out and asked a student to kiss the pig in her place.
“I guess some teachers have kissing standards, but I don’t happen to have them when we're raising money for the kids," says Sadler, a BHTA member. "All in all, it’s swinetastic.”
“It’s a kick,” says Roy Beck, agriculture teacher and Bret Harte Teachers Association (BHTA) president. “All the kids and staff come down to watch it.”
Held annually to support the school’s agriculture program, the event is organized by the local Future Farmers of America chapter. It started in the ’90s, took a hiatus for several years, and then returned when the economy tanked.
Woodshop avoids chopping block
How much wood would a woodshop class sell, if students could sell wooden sheds and furniture?
Rob Leever, the shop teacher at Casa Roble Fundamental High School in Orangevale, asked students to build things that could be sold to help keep the program afloat. So instead of bookends and breadboxes for parents, his students create wooden sheds, Adirondack chairs and ottomans made to order. It helps to offset the cost of class materials, since many families can’t donate money for materials during these tough times.
“Teachers have to be creative, because there’s no other way to survive,” says Leever, a member of the San Juan Teachers Association.
The oversize sheds sell for more than $2,000 each, which is less than they cost at major home improvement stores. They are so popular that Leever and his students can’t keep them in stock.
When Regional Occupational Program (ROP) classes were eliminated, the school decided to absorb the cost of his class, Leever said. So he is happy to do his share to keep costs down. After all, he jokes, wood doesn’t grow on trees.
“It’s high school, but it’s also a business,” says Leever. “It’s great to watch my students get an A and also make $1,500 for the class.”
Leever has created a brochure to promote students’ handiwork and advertises their products on Craigslist. The district has filmed a video showcasing his marketing effort, which can be viewed at www.sanjuan.edu/news.cfm?story=11204.
The Amazing Race
Forget about the not-so-amazing Race to the Top, where schools have to compete against one another for school funding. Two CTA chapter presidents believe they have a better opportunity on “The Amazing Race,” vowing to split the $1 million grand prize evenly between their two schools if they win the TV competition.
New Haven Teachers Association President Charmaine Banther and Dublin Teachers Association President Robbie Kreitz auditioned for the reality show’s upcoming season, which will begin filming in May or June. They haven’t heard yet whether they made it, but they plan to go to the next 10 auditions wherever they are held. They won’t give up until they become contestants on the show, which pits two-person teams against other teams on a trek around the world.
If selected, they will be the first teacher duo on the CBS reality show.
“Both of us are CTA presidents who have survived pink slips and layoffs,” says Kreitz. “After you’ve survived a crowded classroom of middle schoolers the first day back from summer break, a scavenger hunt in Bangkok sounds like a piece of cake.”
Banther, a math teacher at James Logan High School, met Kreitz, a special education teacher at Wells Middle School, in 2010 while attending CTA’s Presidents Conference at Asilomar. They got lost driving to their hotel in Monterey and decided they should audition for “The Amazing Race.” Last December, on the spur of the moment, they jetted to Munich for a few days, where they shot their audition video and proved to themselves they are ready for the real thing. Kreitz will navigate and eat all of the “funky food” such as insects, while Banther will do all the driving and take on anything that involves height challenges.
The two have created a Facebook page (“Teacher Leaders Amazing Race Bid”) and are encouraged by the support they have received from colleagues, friends, and the families of their students.
“We’ll try anything,” says Banther. “It’s all about raising revenue. It’s all about the kids.”
Mock companies raise real money
To help his special education students learn real-life skills, Jeff Waugh creates student-run mock companies at Milpitas High School. His students run a newspaper delivery service and operate companies selling pumpkins, wreaths and flowers to those at their school. While they are learning to count change and handle responsibility, they are also bringing money into school coffers.
“The revenue the companies bring in is a bonus,” says Waugh, a Milpitas Teachers Association member. “I can pay for transportation to take them places such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and special education dances at other high schools in Santa Clara County. We have also purchased materials for our classes.”
Waugh, a fifth-year teacher who is hearing impaired, estimates that his students’ business ventures have raised close to $2,500 so far this year.
“The businesses give students a focus. They are learning independence through something that is very hands-on and memorable. They are learning the skills to be successful at work,” says Waugh. “They also practice their writing skills by sending thank-you notes to all of their customers.”
Waugh says his district appreciates that he thinks outside the box. “I need the support of those around me to be successful,” he said. “It takes a village to do the kind of work I do in special education. The difference between sitting with a stack of worksheets and teaching students about money via social interactions where they are maintaining job responsibilities and selling items is tremendous.”
His next venture, the Flower Company, will have a community focus. Proceeds will support Camp Everytown, a program where Milpitas High School students experience group exercises about self-identity, racial, cultural and ethnic issues, family relationships, gender roles and equality, peer relationships, and conflict resolution. (For more about the program, visit www.svfaces.org/educational-programs/camp-everytown-formerly-anytown.)
“The possibilities are endless,” says Waugh. “Right now, four companies are enough, but who knows what the future will bring?”
Cow chip bingo
Del Oro High School has found a way of turning cow chips into cash.
Every October, Del Oro school officials in Loomis, located north of Sacramento, mark a field into one-yard squares that are “sold” to members of the school community. On the night of the big football games, three cows are let loose on a field, usually at the start of the junior varsity game, and are given until the beginning of the varsity game to “mark” the squares.
“Everyone waits for them to poop,” explains Geoff Broyles, a physical education teacher at the school. “Then you find out who owns the square where the cow ‘marked’ and give away prizes.”
The event, sponsored by the Del Oro High School parents group in conjunction with school staff, raises about $20,000 each year, which helps fund the school’s sports teams. “Each team sells tickets and receives a percentage of the profits,” says Broyles, an Associated Teachers of Placer member.
“Everybody walks up to the field and checks it out. It’s kind of a carnival atmosphere” with pop, popcorn and a barbecue, he adds.
The event used to be held right on the football field until the school bought synthetic turf. Now it takes place in another field close by.
“It’s definitely one of the things that makes us unique compared to other schools in the area,” says Broyles. “Nobody else does anything like it.”
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