Atascocita Middle School has an annual fund every year that raises money for the school through candy sells. The school receives a 40% return for their contributions. At times the school would raise as much as $40,000 and get $12,000-13,000 back to put towards the school. Well, it is a constructive way to raise the money but when a survey was taken by the community, parents voiced their opinion and thought it would be in the best interest of the school if they simply just wrote checks directly to the school, that way the school receives 100% of the parents contributions rather than just a fraction. With the entertainment factor of shopping out of the equation, Head Principal Karl Koehler came up with an idea to make it more fun to donate. Thus, the AMS Amazing Race was born.
Based off of the popular CBS reality television game show, “The Amazing Race”, Principal Koehler travels and becomes one of his students for 15 minutes doing an activity that the student does on a daily basis…whether it’s from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM or after school. “They got to pick and choose what I did for 15 minutes,” Principal Koehler said. Overall he did 10 events with13 different kids. Throughout the challenges he saw how committed the students were to their after school activities practicing as late as 8:30 PM and lasting as long as 2 hours. “Overall I just had a great time. I got to know them better and they got to see me in a different light. I have a greater respect for some of the things our students do,” Principal Koehler confessed.
The kids were selected at random and some that were picked chose not to participate. “I don’t think they knew much about it, some of them came back and said ‘oh I wish we would’ve done it!’ It had nothing to do with the amount a parent gave,” Principal Koehler stated. By the time the kids were selected in October the school had already raised $12,000.
Principal Koehler provides a brochure that states their vision and the amount needed to reach their goal while explaining how the money will be used. There is a link on the Atascocita Middle School website where parents and the rest of the community can donate money online or monthly. Students even receive benefits from this. They may get coupons for eating outside, announcements on the marque, or even principal for a day.
Texan Drive loaned Principal Koehler a 2014 Dodge Challenger to complete his challenges. “They were extremely generous. It was fun to drive, I’ve never owned a sports car, I’ve always been a truck guy,” Principal Koehler said. “Texan Drive was extremely generous in providing the transportation for The Amazing Race and they did it for about two and a half weeks.”
The intention is to keep this challenge an annual event. Next year he hopes to be challenged to something even more out of his comfort zone. Surprisingly, none of the students challenged Principal Koehler to take a test for them.
Some of the events completed for the AMS Amazing Race:
Ran 1 ½ mile in PE
Cheerleader at football game
Competitive Cheerleader after school at a local gym
Beginning trumpet class
Foods for the day Cooking Class
Girls Challenge Soccer Practice
Golf Putting lesson at Walden Country Club
PE Warm Ups
Most out of comfort zone: cheerleading (wore a blue wig)
Most physically demanding: Soccer goalkeeper
Least successful: Trumpet
Tristan Heaton was the soccer goalkeeper that Principal Koehler shadowed. “For his first time being a goalkeeper he was actually pretty good,” Heaton admitted. Although, Principal Koehler had other ideas of what to expect; “I literally thought it was just going to be…watching him take a few shots, me take a few shots and be like…Hey that was easy!” Principal Koehler said. Instead he had to do diving drills, which was very physically demanding.
“It was fun to watch him try to do the cheers with us,” AMS 7th grade student Halle Sonnier said. She admits that she would like to see the Amazing Race continue next year and already has an idea of what she would like to see him do next year.
Principal Koehler attended Dulles High School in Sugar Land, TX where he competed in basketball, track, and cross country. He then went on to study at Texas A&M in College Station, TX where he earned his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and finally a master’s degree at the University of Houston in administration and supervision.
Written by Mark M. Johnson