After Pima Butte Elementary School students stepped up to a challenge encouraging them to read more, principal Matt Montoya followed through on his end of the bargain Thursday by working all day from the glass display case in front of the library.
During a book fair held at the school from March 23-27, the students, with help from their parents and motivation from school employees, set a lofty goal to sell $4,000 worth of books. They exceeded the mark, finishing the week with $4,800 in sales. Their part was done but the principal’s role was just beginning.
To answer the question “What would your principal do for reading?” Montoya agreed to work all day, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the display case.
The case was decorated with an ocean theme and the principal dressed accordingly in flip-flops, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. In addition to his computer, cell phone and everything he needed to do his job, he was also accompanied by laughter and smiles of students as they crossed the halls.
“This is mildly uncomfortable but is very exciting and fun watching the smiling faces the kids have when they walk by and it is all worth it” Montoya said.
According to Montoya, the spring book fair typically brings in $3,000, so everyone was very excited about this year’s total and the kids and parents really got into it. “We really blew our goal out of the water,” he said.
For student Danielle Surek, the book fair was very enjoyable. She bought two books, an eraser and a poster. When asked what she thought about her principal being in the display case, she giggled and said, “I think today will be really funny.”
Victoria Dittmar also contributed to putting her principal on display by purchasing three books, a pencil, a bookmark and an eraser.
Both girls like to read a lot and they said they usually read one or two books a month.
Pima Butte library aide Jen Janiec said the fair was part of a Scholastic Book Fair. “They came and left us books to sell to our kids encouraging them to have more books in home and create a habit of reading.”
The school will receive a portion of the proceeds to purchase more books for the library.
Based on the theme from the Scholastic Book Fair “What would you do for reading?” Janiec modified the theme to “What would your principal do for reading?” and came up with the stunt of putting the principal on display to draw kids’ attention to reading.
Montoya was happy the motivational ploy worked. “Since I got into education I’ve always wanted to make kids smile, laugh and have fun while learning,” he said. “I guess I just followed that philosophy of creating an environment for kids to flourish in this important time of their lives. That’s me, that’s my style.”
He added, “My objective and goal is to get kids to read every single day and if I have to work from a display case for a day, then I’m OK with that.”
Photo by Andréia Benite Cox