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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.
2 & 80.
80% mastery on math tests,
and raising reading levels by 2 levels.
He has specific rules and class organization.
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 Donorschoose.org 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 Donorschoose.org 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.
Filed under: Education, Teacher-Funded Classrooms | Tagged: Education, Joe Hays, Joe's Superstars | 12 Comments »