Douglas Farley knows how to motivate his students at SunRidge Elementary.
The principal issued a challenge to his fifth-graders: If they met the mark he set on the final science benchmark test, he would color his hair SunRidge blue. The students took this challenge seriously and worked their hardest to get the chance to see a blue-haired principal.
“They made the mark I set, which is higher than we have been on this test in the past,” Farley said.
The fifth-grade class takes three progress-monitoring tests throughout the year in preparation for the state science proficiency test at the end of the school year.
“The last one we took was in March, and it covers all the standards, and it gives us our best indicator of what they need to work on,” Farley said. “I challenged them to outscore their last tests.”
Students took the test just before spring break.
“We did all the calculations and found out they made it by .4 points — by the skin of their teeth,” he said. “When I announced it to each of the classes, I told them, ‘Hey, guys, you missed it by .4 points,’ and they said, ‘Oh, man.’ They asked, ‘But can we round that up?’ and I said, ‘Yes, we can.’” They used their math skills. They were super excited.
“I set a benchmark that the students had never met before, and I was hoping they would rise to the challenge — and they did,” Farley said.
He said his wife sprayed on the blue coloring before school a few weeks ago.
“I think she had more fun doing it than I did,” he said, laughing.
Farley made his blue-haired debut at SunRidge on the school’s morning announcements.
“Most of the students were shocked when they saw me,” he said. “They stopped when they saw me. Some of them didn’t have the words. Some thought I was going to wear a wig.”
On the school’s Facebook page, parents were commenting on the stunt.
“Mr. Farley is awesome!” one parent wrote. “Had my fifth-grader studying hard for her PMA.”
Another wrote: “Mr. Farley, you’re pretty amazing always doing something awesome for the kids, no matter how dramatic!”
The blue ’do was short-lived, however. Farley’s hair returned to its normal color the same day after about a dozen shampoo sessions, he said. Students were disappointed to see it wasn’t a permanent change.
The challenge was for the fifth-graders, but Farley said the whole school got excited, even the kindergartners.
This is not the first challenge Farley has issued his students. He said he sets various challenges throughout the year, including a schoolwide challenge for students to meet their math facts fluency. Those who reach the 25% and 50% and 75% benchmarks get to enjoy a party in the cafeteria with treats such as Moon Pies and popsicles.
As for the blue hair — students might just see it again someday.
“I’ll do it again,” he said. “That was worth it. It was fun.”