Originally Published: April 27, 2018 5:59 a.m.
Mayer Unified teachers didn’t walk out. Instead their middle school and high school students did – for one hour.
In a unique twist on the Arizona Educators United #RedForEd campaign that prompted a number of school strikes, or alternative school days, across the state, Mayer students approached administrators about taking a stand for more resources for their education and higher pay for their teachers.
Superintendent Dean Slaga and High School Principal Jeff Duncan both praised the students’ ingenuity and determination to make a statement in a means that was not disruptive or unsafe in any way.
Slaga said the students came up with the idea on their own volition, and encouraged their peers to wear red and craft signs intended to support their local schools and classroom personnel.
“Our teachers came here today for the kids, and our kids chose to do something for them,” Slaga said. “For kids to do that on their own volition … that’s a pretty positive thing.”
A few days ago, Duncan said four high school juniors approached him about doing their own walk to support teachers. He advised them to come with a plan.
“I saw it as a great leadership project,” Duncan said.
The students held a meeting at lunch and determined that at 9 a.m. on Thursday they would head out to the side of Highway 69 – a safe distance from the travel path – and hold up signs for passing motorists.
The students’ incentive, and the response of passersby, was inspirational, Duncan said.
“It was really cool to see,” Duncan said of the students who he said behaved in a mature fashion. “If you stay around as a teacher in the Mayer community, you build great relationships with these kids. And they wanted to support their teachers.
This was a unique angle no one else has taken and we’re really proud of them for that.”