Throughout the month of April, students at St. Clairsville Elementary School in Ohio have been strengthening their spelling skills while creatively raising awareness and funds in support of Parkinson’s disease research. Spearheaded by second grade teacher Josh Shutler, whose father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010, the second annual Spell for a Cure Spelling Bee recently concluded with over $3,900 raised for Team Fox!
After the popularity of last year’s inaugural event, which raised $2,800, Josh was eager and excited to bring the event back with the help of fellow second grade teacher, Dawn Maroon. Here’s how this year’s event was structured:
This year we had a jean day, a preschool coloring contest, a spell-a-thon and then the live spelling bee. Grades K-3 were given a list of words to study, as well as pledge sheets to solicit donations from family and friends for each word spelled correctly. Any student who scored high enough and collected $25 in pledges then qualified for a live spelling bee. The ten finalists from each spelling bee (K-1 and 2nd-3rd) then competed in the final bee. Parents were welcomed to come watch their little ones spell and the feedback has been nothing but positive.
While the fundraising has been hugely successful, Josh explains that the project has always been about more than just collecting donations: “My dad is a huge inspiration and role model in my life, so there was no way that I was going to sit back and not do anything to help. I wanted to [start an event] that would teach my students the importance of working towards a goal while providing them with enrichment and a lesson on giving back along the way. It is important for our students to master their learning goals and objectives, but I also feel that it is just as important to teach them lessons in compassion, caring and generosity.”
Through this process, Josh explains that the majority of the school’s student body is now familiar with Parkinson’s disease and remains eager to continue playing a role in the fight for a cure. “It is truly impressive to see what this community has been able to accomplish these last two years… I am so proud to be a small part of the St. Clairsville community.”
So what’s next for the annual bee? Josh explains that his brother Zac—a principal for Ohio County Schools—has also been busy raising awareness for PD research and perhaps 2015 will be the year “to throw down the challenge and create a little competition between the two schools! This is a tradition that I hope to continue growing each year.” We love the sound of that! Congratulations, again, to the St. Claresville Elementary School and all of the spell-a-thon participants!
For more information about the St. Clairsville Spelling Bee, check out the great article that was written in their local paper.