Maize South teacher finds bullish solution to funding challenge
Two years of hard work and harder thinking have finally paid off for Maize South Middle School (Wichita, Ks.) physical education teacher Brandon Wolff.
Thanks to a successful grant application and a unique community event, Wolff finally raised enough money to purchase and implement the newest technology for his physical education students. Maize South students will monitor their PE performance on the Interactive Health Technologies Spirit System next year.
“A couple of years ago, I knew we needed heart rate monitors in our program,” Wolff said. “I knew we could take our program to the next level when we had data that we could get our kids to buy into.”
After conducting his research, Wolff eyed the IHT Spirit System, but like many PE programs in many schools across the country, he had one major hurdle to overcome.
“The bad part was that we didn’t have any money, not enough to get them going in our school,” he said.
He’d applied for several grants, including one with the Maize Education Foundation, to no avail. Wolff re-applied for more grants this year, including another with the MEF, but he knew better than to put all his hopes on grants. Then, earlier this year, when planning for the second annual Bull Run 5K, a wildly-popular, obstacle course-based 5K that he and fellow teacher Andrew Moore started in 2015 as a reward for high-performing PE students, a light bulb went off.
“The biggest feedback we got from parents was, ‘man, I wish I could run in that,’” Wolff said of the Bull Run. “When I kept hearing that, I went to [Andrew] and said, ‘I think we’ve got something here…what if we let them run in it?’”
So Wolff approached his administration, visiting with Maize South Principal Gillian Macias and Superintendent Chad Higgins.
“We decided to find a way to do this,” he said. “That’s when we brought it up to the superintendent, the idea about the run. He thought it was a great idea. He though it had a chance to be very popular with the local community and be a great money-maker for us.”
Students had their big day on Friday, May 13, and 350 students ran the course, up from 280 last year. Then parents and other community members got their turn on the course, which included 26 obstacles well-suited for a Tough Mudder, on Saturday, May 14. Despite a short publicity window, the community run brought in $3,000 that Wolff would use toward the purchase of IHT’s new Zone wrist monitors. The best news came later.
“Luckily this year was fantastic,” Wolff said. “Not only did we get the money raised for that, we also got grant from the foundation for $7,600. It was huge for us.”
IHT’s Michael Cordier, who attended the Bull Rush events, praised Wolff’s willingness to come up with solutions to his funding challenge.
“It is an amazing story to demonstrate that ‘no money’ is not an issue when there is passion and a plan to make positive change happen,” he said.