The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Dairy Queen Treat for Teachers Award

This is a blog post that I have been wanting to write for over a month now, but I have been delaying because I was waiting for a number of things to come through, such as official confirmation and some photographs. However, the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, so I figured I’d use this second cold weather day of the week to write up. Family and close friends already know about it, as well as anyone who follows me on Twitter, Instagram, and/or visits the Urbana School District’s website.

Way back in August, even before school started, all of the teachers in our district got an email from our superintendent, alerting us to an essay writing for teachers being sponsored by Dairy Queen. The writing prompt for the essay was simple: in 149 words or less, explain why you think you deserve to get money for new supplies for your classroom. There would be ten grand prizes of $1,490 each and one hundred prizes for $149 each. I wasn’t initially going to write an essay and apply, but then I got to thinking about the pull-down maps in my classroom. I have an outdated map of the world and an old map of Illinois, but no pull-down map of the United States. I decided I’d apply, hoping to get a bit of money toward buying new maps. Besides, I have already written over 230 words and this has taken me less than ten minutes to write.

My first draft was over 250 words long. I rewrote it a few times, decided I didn’t like how it was going at all, scrapped the whole thing, and started writing again. I was still way over the word limit, so I wrote several more drafts before I had a product that I thought was satisfactory. By this time the deadline had already approached so I wasn’t able to ask anyone to read it for me. I just put it aside for an hour or so and the re-read it. Still finding it satisfactory, I filled out the application and submitted the essay to Dairy Queen.

And then I kind of forgot about the whole thing. I didn’t have any idea when they would actually select the winners and I had other things to do, like the start of school. Then a few months ago I got a phone call from someone at Pierson Grant who said they were calling about my essay. Honestly, I thought the whole thing was a hoax. It just didn’t seem real. I researched them online and discovered that they are the public relations firm that represents, among many other businesses, Dairy Queen. I got caught in a game of phone tag before finally reaching someone and learned that I had been selected as a winner for the first Dairy Queen/Orange Julius Treat for Teachers essay contest. Not only was I a winner, I was one of the ten grand prize winners, selected from over 1,500 essays!

I have spent several weeks mulling over what I can do with $1,490 toward classroom supplies. As I’ve said, I originally thought I’d get some maps. But with this much money, I want to do something bigger, better, and more long-lasting. Once I’ve figured that out and have the supplies, I’m sure there will be a follow-up post! In the meantime, here is the essay I wrote:

Have you ever tried to teach about Europe with a map that shows countries that no longer existed? Have you ever taught a course on U.S. History without an up-to-date textbook or even a map of the nation? Have you stood in front a classroom and watched as books fell off shelves, globes broke, and students are crowding around to see the small whiteboard that is the only writing surface in the room? Have you taught both U.S. Customary and metric measurement using only a yardstick? Have you tried to instruct students in critical reading strategies using dusty, smelly, falling-apart books? Have you presented a technology course without the benefit of computers or tablets or even a projector?

If you have answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, then you will understand why I need new materials!

Have a great afternoon and for my students, make sure you get some rest tonight! Assuming we have school tomorrow, it is going to be a long day with a lot of catching-up to do! But don’t worry; it’ll be a fun day, too!


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