Real Superstars.

Updated October 5

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The following blog entry was written for a contest. The contest is now closed, but if you are still interested in helping Joe and his Superstars, please contact me. I am gathering materials and donations that will be sent to him and would love to include your help.

Ladies and Gentlemen:


4th grade teacher, Joe Hays.


 And these are his lucky students.  He calls them his Superstars.


Joe teaches in a high poverty, inner-city St. Louis, MO elementary school.  This past summer he went through teacher training with Teach for America.  TFA “recruits hard-working, passionate people who want to make a difference in public education and then trains them how to be effective classroom teachers.”  TFA hit the jackpot when Joe signed on.  If I were asked to describe Joe in one word, that word would be passionate.   Passionate about his family, his God, his friends, his life.  He believes in people and  their possibilities.  Hey, in a past life he was a minister and that is the ultimate in believing in folks and their possibilities.

Joe learned in his training that:

  • By the time they’re in fourth grade, children growing up in low-income communities are already three grade levels behind their peers in high-income communities.
  • About 50 percent of students in low-income communities will not graduate from high school by the time they’re 18 years old.
  • Those who do graduate will perform on average at an eighth-grade level.
  • Of the 13 million children growing up in poverty, only 1 in 10 will graduate from college.

Joe has set goals for his Superstars. 

biggoals2 & 80.

80% mastery on math tests,
and raising reading levels by 2 levels. goaltrackers

He has specific rules and class organization.     consequence classrules

He’s put together a cool little reading area.


 He’s gathering books for
his Superstars to enjoy.

He is in the process of plastering his classroom walls with college and university t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pennants.  Joe wants his Superstars to dream big and envision themselves going to college.  Here are his words: “This is just one way my students are going to start imagining their post high school options. Everyday they’ll look up on the walls of their classroom and be surrounded by university gear. At some point, they will be required to pick one of the colleges and write a report about it. They’ll then share that report with the class.” He doesn’t want shirts that advertise a college sports program, he wants to encourage them to think college + education.  What a novel idea!!!

Now get this: Joe has to supply his room.  He even buys his own copy paper.   Can you imagine walking into your office and your boss saying, “The office will no longer be supplying copy paper.  Please bring your own.”  Without going into Joe’s personal life too much, just let me tell you he has a precious wife and three children; two girls, one born this past summer, and a boy who has special medical needs.  He should be able to spend his very-hard-earned money on his family, not on his classroom.

When I found out that Joe has to supply his room and his copy paper, I wrote OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples to see if I could get some paper donated to his classroom.  The SAME DAY I mailed the letters, I got an email from a blog I regularly read (and have plans to write about one of these days),  A Cowboy’s Wife.  Lori is a MaxMom and was announcing a giveaway in conjunction with OfficeMax and their “A Day Made Better.”  Lori is giving away a $100 OfficeMax gift card to a deserving teacher, and I am hereby nominating Joe for the gift card.    I know there are teachers all over the country who would qualify for this gift, but I, personally,  know of no one better than Joe to receive and use this card.  And think how his Superstars would feel, to know that there are folks in this world who DO care about their future and their lives.


Are you interested in supporting Joe and his Superstars?  Me, too.  Here are some ways to help:

(1) Go to A Cowboy’s Wife blog and nominate Joe Hays in the comments. Nominations close midnight October 4.  There are other ways to nominate Joe; read Lori’s post to find out how.

(2) Wouldn’t it be fun for Joe to open an envelope full of gift cards?  A ream of paper runs around $5-$7 dollars.  A paperback book from Amazon, Borders or Barnes and Noble can be found for $5-$10.  Some school supplies from Target  costs $5-$10.  I have a Paypal account and would be happy to buy those gift cards in your name.  I would send you a receipt for the gift card I buy for the amount you want to donate. Or you could buy a gift card and mail it to me. 

(3) Joe submitted a proposal to and it was accepted.  He is asking for an LCD projector which projects the screen of his computer so that the entire class can see and learn.  You can donate to the website and when the money is collected, Joe receives his LCD projector.
EDIT: This is DONE! He has enough donations and will be getting his LCD projector!

(4) You can send a college/university shirt for Joe’s wall to encourage the Superstars to great things.

(5) Forward this request to your friends, and post an entry on your blog about Joe.  Would your company, or Sunday School class want to adopt Joe’s Superstars? Are you in touch with some sort of foundation that could donate to the cause?  If you sometimes think that you are only one person and can’t do much to change the lives of others, THIS is the opportunity to directly impact someone’s future.

Lori, thanks for the opportunity to talk about Joe.  I’m so proud of him and look forward to hearing how his SuperStars are doing.

Email me at lonestarlifer (at) gmail (dot) com if you can be a Superstar supporter.

 EDITED: Here are all the MaxMom sites that are carrying this giveaway.  Joe can be nominated on all the sites, but he can only win once (darn it!)

This Week’s Max Moms’ Giveaways

A Cowboy’s Wife from Lori of @acowboyswife

Crafty Mama of 4 from Kim of @craftymamaof4

Detroit Mommies from Courtney of @TheAppleofMyEye

Elementary Spirits from Barb of @chaotic_barb

Extraordinary Mommy from Danielle of @extraordmommy

High Impact Mom from Amanda of @highimpactmom

Mom E Centric from Jerri Ann of @The_Jerri_Ann

Mom Spark from Amy of @momspark

Multi Minding Mom from Leighann of @leighannMMM

June Cleaver Nirvana from Holly of @texasholly

No Time for Flashcards from Allie of @noflashcards

Oh! Amanda! from Amanda of @oohamanda

Savor the Thyme from Jen of @savorthethyme

Skip to My Lou from Cindy of @cindyhopper

Tip Junkie from Laurie of @tipjunkie

Twofer Mom from Janine of @twincident

All writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.


12 Responses

  1. What an amazing teacher. Thanks so much for entering him into the contest. I loved reading his inspirational story and it makes me stop and think about what more I can do.

    So glad to find your blog. I am now off to stalk you on twitter (just a little warning).

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! I am honored you took the time to read my entry. This is one thing I love about blogging and the internet – that the word can be spread about wonderful giveaways like this that benefit deserving people.

      I see you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Do you know about the fab jewelry designer Dian Malouf? She lives and works in the Dallas area. I wrote about her here:
      and here: She designed the Alamo ring in my blog’s header.
      Take care and hope to hear from you again.

  2. […] be enjoying new technology that will enhance their learning experiences. On top of that, a friend wrote a very encouraging blog. It is certainly too much but I sure appreciate others going to bat on my behalf. And even though […]

  3. […] 30, 2009 · Leave a Comment A friend has nominated Joe to receive a $100 gift card from Office Max and their “A Day Made […]

  4. Hey (PAULA)! What An Inspirational Story! (My Daughter/AUTUMN BARNES) Just Took A Position This School Year At One Of The (Elementary Schools) With The (Midland I.S.D.). How Can I Get This Story To Her? I Would Like For Her To Read Your Blog About This Story. Does She Just Need To Join Your Blog? I Don’t Know How All That Works…Have A Great Weekend!….BEN~

    • Hi Bennie, Anyone can read my blog. TellAutumn to click on this link she can read the blog entry. Hope she finds some inspiration and ideas from it. She can alsoread Joe’s blog directly as I think he will be blogging about his teaching. Hope you are good. Paula Parks Fulford 281.491.9036 (hm) 281.536.1241 (cell) 713.654.2006 (wk) Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prov. 16:24

      See my greeting card gallery at:* I’ll be adding new cards as I have time. Facebook: Paula Parks Facebook: Go Girls for Paula (Paula Nell Wolfe Hamrick)

  5. Hi Paula – interesting info re: Joe Hays. I’m voting for Joe if I can figure out how to do it. AL

  6. Yeah~ So excited you won for Joe, Paula – he really sounds like an amazing teacher!! So very deserving!

  7. […] Education, Education, Little J In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about my friend, Joe, who has a teaching situation in which he has to supply his classroom in order to teach his […]

  8. […] that I entered my friend Joe in a contest to win a $100 OfficeMax giftcard? He, and his SuperStars, WON!  In fact, he won four times, […]

  9. […] tags that you attach to a baggie filled with treats.  I made two sets, one for my bud Joe in St. Louis so he could treat the SuperStars on Friday.  I made another set for Little J’s party which […]

  10. […] Little J is about too old to be excited about Easter egg hunts and baskets with plastic grass.  I still like to put together goodies for holidays, and thank goodness, I have an elementary class in St. Louis to which I can send surprises.  My bud Joe is the teacher and he calls his class the SuperStars! […]

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