“Hi Mr. Blauser!” As they arrived at school on Tuesday morning, Grant Center for the Expressive Arts students waved up to their principal, who was standing on the roof.
"You actually did it? You were up there all night?” a student shouted in delighted disbelief.
"Good morning. It’s good to see you here,” Blauser shouted down to students and families. Blauser’s red flannel pajamas and blue camping tent on top of the building isn’t a usual sighting at Grant. He recently challenged his students to increase their reading and math skills for the ultimate reward—sending their principal to the moon.
“Our students were kind of dragging coming out of the pandemic,” he explained while sitting at the opening to his tent on the roof. “I wanted to think of something unusual and fun to get them excited and motivated. I told them that if they each read 15 books and the older students learned their multiplication and fractions, I would spend the night on the roof of the school.”
He laughs and added, “Well, that really motivated them.”
“I read all my books!” a student shouted up to Blauser as she arrived at school in the morning. “And I saw your stories. I like “The Napping House.”
About 100 families joined Blauser for a Zoom call on Monday night to listen to him read aloud a few books and get a tour of his lodgings for the night.
“I like his hat,” a second grader commented on Blauser’s red plaid pajama hat with a white pom-pom at the top. “I’d like to sleep up there. I can sleep anywhere.”
Blauser is willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means sleeping on the school’s roof in unseasonably cold weather.
“He’s the best,” Grant parent Heather Saenz said. All four of her children attended Grant at one point. She said the reading challenge really motivated her daughter.
“He never lets the kids down, she said. “He really relates to them and is dedicated to helping them succeed. My daughter has grown leaps and bounds with her multiplication and reading because of the challenge. She needed a reason to push for it.”
Grant education support professional Rachel Houkom waved up to Blauser on the roof and said, “I was worried about him, up in the cold and wind all night, but he’s in it for the kids 100 percent. Anything to make them want to build that love of reading.”
Blauser credits his staff and families for the success of the “send your principal to the moon” challenge.
“We have such a wonderful community,” Blauser said with a smile, despite his restless and chilly night on the roof. “My staff backed me with this crazy idea from day one. They reminded kids to stick with it and kept them going with fun games along the way. And having the parents see me up here doing this, it just adds to the commitment we all have for our kids. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get them excited about reading and learning. But maybe next time, it’ll be ‘send your principal to the sun.’”
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