June 18, 2009 in Washington Voices

Bookworms make a buzz

Reading students take a whack at teacher’s style
By The Spokesman-Review
Photo by Jody Edwards photo

Teacher Kay Wright’s longtime hair stylist, Eileen Moffitt, helps student Stetson Plummer with the first cut. Of all Wright’s students, Stetson read the most, reaching almost 6,000 minutes, so he got to take the first cut. Photo by Jody Edwards
(Full-size photo)

Sometimes teachers reach for unconventional methods in an effort to motivate their students. For Kay Wright, a fourth-grade teacher at Willard Elementary School in North Spokane, this included temporarily adopting the Susan Boyle look this spring.

Wright challenged her students to each read more than 1,000 minutes between spring break and the end of May. During the same time she promised to grow out her hair, and the students who reached the reading-goal would then get to cut her hair on June 2.

“The planning all started in January,” said Wright, who usually has very short hair. “It was very, very hard for me to grow it out, it got all shaggy.”

Wright referred to British singing sensation Susan Boyle, who entered the spotlight on the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” sporting a mop of curly gray hair.

“I really did look like her; it was a bit eerie,” said Wright.

To be allowed to wield the scissors at the teacher a student had to read at least 1,000 minutes – those who read between 800-999 minutes could only watch the haircut.

Parents had to sign a note for the number of minutes read at home to make it official.

“I had 13 students make it,” said Wright. “The kid who read the most minutes got to go first.”

Stetson Plummer, who read almost 6,000 minutes, was handed the scissors before anyone else.

“Sure, I was a little nervous, but you hear of teachers taking a pie in the face or do all kinds of other things,” Wright said. Her regular hair stylist, Eileen Moffitt of Top Options on North Division Street, brought salon supplies to the school for the big haircut session.

“It helped that she was there, but the students really got to cut my hair,” Wright said, adding that the first time she did this was two years ago, and she’d do it again in a heartbeat.

And yes, she did like the haircut, she said.

“Everyone tries to motivate kids to read in one way or the other,” Wright said. “And these are the kinds of things kids will always remember.”

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