The GNR “Ice Bucket” Challenge: Learning to Make a Difference
“It’s not often that teachers get the unique opportunity to teach children about giving back and making a difference in their community,” said fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Shannon Morgan, but on Friday, September 12th, East Windsor Education Association members from the Grace Norton Rogers Elementary school did just that by hosting the ultimate back to school “ice breaker” activity.
What started as a simple suggestion on Facebook over the summer from fellow EWEA members, Kim Carter and Mary Christensen, soon turned into a school-wide “Ice Bucket “ challenge that was eagerly accepted by student council sponsors, Melanie Bowen and Shannon Morgan, and GNR school principal, Heather Gladkowski. With the challenge officially accepted, the “Grace Norton Rogers ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” was born.
“We saw this as not only a way to raise money for a great cause like ALS, but also as a fantastic way to build camaraderie so early in the school year,” explained Mrs. Melanie Bowen, Grace Norton Rogers fourth grade teacher.
With the assistance of GNR’s PTO president, Mrs. Cristina Fowler, and last year’s student council members, plans were made and flyers were sent home on the second day of school asking families to send-in donations on the following Monday. The PTO agreed to supply the ice and volunteers to fill the buckets of the staff on the day of the event. Students were also told that as a culminating activity to the fundraising event, they would be able to watch staff members of the Rogers School get “drenched” with buckets of ice water poured over their heads at the end of the week. To add some extra excitement to the fundraising endeavor, the school’s principal, Mrs. Heather Gladkowski and vice-principal, Mr. David Bilenker, agreed to let the teachers from the classes that raised the two highest amounts of money, dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, too. Incredibly, 50 dedicated EWEA members and GNR staff members graciously agreed to participate in the “GNR ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”
Mrs. Gladkowski stated, “When Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Bowen approached me with the idea, I was immediately interested. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the school year. The entire school community came together to help raise funds to make a difference in the lives of others.”
At times, the ‘friendly’ competition was “fiercely,” exciting with everyone trying to be the top two classes to get the honor of dousing the principal and vice-principal with a bucket of ice cold water. In fact, the top fundraising classes weren’t even announced until the afternoon assembly. In only four days, the students and families of the Rogers school brought in coins, cash and checks, some from their own piggy banks, and miraculously raised over $2,500.
“The Grace Norton Rogers PTO was thrilled to help facilitate the event. The excitement was infectious as was evident not only by the money raised, but by all the parents who volunteered their time to help carry, water and ice the buckets. We were so pleased to be part of such a terrific event,” said PTO President, Cristina Fowler.
“I had a lot of fun at the GNR Ice Bucket Challenge. My favorite part was watching the principal do the challenge,” said fourth grade student, Areeba Rizvi
Elia Ruiz, a student in Mrs. Morgan’s fourth grade class, commented that the, “GNR Ice Bucket Challenge was the best activity the school has ever done. It was fun and we helped ALS by raising so much money.”
Melanie Bowen and Shannon Morgan
East Windsor Education Association