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Friendly Wager Brings Superintendent Back to the Classroom

Verona Area School District Superintendent Dean Gorrell works with students Nkechime Ifediora and Naiheima Young. Gorrell found himself back in the classroom teaching math after losing a friendly wager involving the University of Wisconsin-University of Iowa football game.

Verona Area School District Superintendent Dean Gorrell returned to the classroom one day this fall, the result of a friendly wager involving the University of Wisconsin football team's victory over his favorite Iowa Hawkeyes.

Some students and staff at Savanna Oaks School wore Badger red to celebrate Gorrell's visit, and "On Wisconsin" was played during passing times. There were even a few Iowa fans who showed their support through supportive comments and clothing, according to teacher Dave Wallace, who is president of the Verona Area Education Association, and was the beneficiary of the wager.

At a school assembly at the start of the year, Wallace introduced Gorrell as a proud Iowa Hawkeyes fan, and noted that Iowa would be playing Wisconsin in September. Before anyone knew it, Gorrell agreed he would teach Wallace's math class if the Badgers beat the Hawkeyes.

"Needless to say, there was some friendly banter via e-mail, especially after the Badgers won," Wallace said. Gorrell paid his debt by teaching periods 3-5 math on November 1.

Wallace said Gorrell's task was to teach the students "order of operations" and then help them as they worked on a skills practice bulletin board-based routine called "Mountain Math". He and Gorrell met a few days ahead of time to discuss the class plans.

Ironically, Wallace said, as Gorrell began his first class, a red-tail hawk was spotted perched on the roof directly above the classroom. There was no sign of a Badger.

"Everyone involved in this event had fun. The kids were excited to have the superintendent teaching their class, the staff at Savanna Oaks enjoyed the excitement and fun of a friendly sports rivalry, and it was clear that Dean enjoyed having the chance to get back to the classroom and really work closely with kids," Wallace said.

"At a time when budget concerns and standardized testing appear to dominate the headlines, when management and teachers are almost expected to be at odds, it is great to see this sort of fun and cooperation in our schools. The community expects and deserves this sort of partnership, an important piece in the puzzle that creates great schools, and great schools benefit everyone."

Posted November 16, 2007

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