Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Pima music and choir instructor Mike Bradley cleans the windshield during a benefit car wash to assist an injured student with medical expenses.
By Jon Johnson
THATCHER – While some of their comrades in arms were marching on the Capitol or having “stand-ins” to express their cause, a group of teachers from Pima was joined by some of their students during the first day of the strike Thursday in “working at the car wash” to benefit a fallen student who was injured in an ATV crash the previous weekend.
The fundraiser event also included a bake sale and was held at Tractor Supply Company in Thatcher. According to Pima music and choir instructor Mike Bradley, the group presented the injured student’s family with $900 at the end of the day. Bradley said a number of school board members also showed up at the event and expressed their solidarity with the teachers.
Pima Junior High science teacher Chris Carrell told the Gila Herald that the teachers wanted to use the strike’s opening day to assist the community rather than detract from what is happening between the governor, Legislature, and teachers.
“We’re not trying to walk out on your students, in fact, we’re trying to help our community as much as possible,” Carrell said.
He stressed that while they all hope things go well at the Capitol and a resolution comes quickly, the event wasn’t intended to bring attention to their cause as much as it was to provide a helping hand.
“This car wash is really not meant to bring attention to the referendum,” he said. “It is mostly to help out a student in need because that’s really what our community is all about . . . We’re looking for help with our students.”
Due to the shortage of teachers in the Pima School District, students who were not at school received an excused absence. Several students took advantage of that to have the day off from school. Instead of playing video games or watching TV, however, many of them were working the car wash, scrubbing the vehicles, rinsing them and drying them, or handling the bake sale.
Pima Junior High student Garet Morris was one of the students using the day to help.
“I am here to support all of our students, and we have a fundraiser here for a high school student who was in an accident,” Morris said. “And it’s #RedforEd day, so we are showing that teachers are out and doing stuff for the students. I am super happy to be helping out, this has been super fun. We have sold a ton of stuff and washed a ton of cars.”
Pima High School English teacher Natalie Schlittenhardt summed up the event.
“We’re glad we’re able to help one of our students out who was in an ATV accident,” Schlittenhardt said. “We’re always wanting to help students if we can. And as far as the #RedforEd goes, I just hope that we see less negative and more positive comments because we really do work hard and want good things for our district and our classroom for the students, and we just want to stay on a positive note.”