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The Spotlight is on……the Monticello Teachers Association Toy Story team

April 13, 2018


Teachers dressed as Toy Story charactersTeachers have a lasting impact on their students. They are influential; they are role models. Many adults can tell you, without a moment’s hesitation, a meaningful teacher moment that happened decades earlier.

That impact doesn’t end when the bell rings. Take, for example, a group of teachers from the Monticello Central School District. They banded together for the second year in a row to support the Town of Wallkill Boys and Girls Clubs, Inc. in a big way. That is why they are in our spotlight this month.

“We started last year,” explained Connie Avery-Cheng, a fifth grade teacher at Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary School. “Boys and Girls Clubs hold a celebrity dinner each year and we decided to create a team and participate to help raise money for the group.”

Here is how it works. Different groups and organizations put together teams and then raise money – very creatively – for the Boys and Girls Clubs. They do fundraisers before the event but at the event is when the competitive and creative juices flow.

This year, the Monticello Teachers Association (MTA) had a team made up of nine distinguished teachers and staff members – Kim Murphy, Jill Yannetta, Sarah Mootz, Paige Schoonmaker, Kathleen Mabee, Katrina Futrell, Barbara Bitjeman, Ryan Speer and Avery-Cheng. All are from KLR except for Speer who is a teacher at Cooke. The theme for the night was the 90s. What possibly would a group of elementary school teachers dress up as to represent the 1990s? Toy Story of course! The Pixar/Disney animated movies were groundbreaking and have lived on in popularity over the last two and a half decades.


Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Bo Peep, Jesse, Hamm the piggy bank, Barbie, and even one of the Little Green Men gathered to raise funds for the club. There were events held at all of the schools in the district to raise money prior to the event. On the night of the dinner, the 10 teams worked the room, trying to get guests to pony-up even more to add to their team’s total. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther has her photo taken in the Etch A Sketch frame


Each team served the dinners, garnering tips from their grateful customers. The MTA/Toy Story team made a giant Etch A Sketch frame they carried around the room. Patrons made a donation and got their photo taken with the characters inside of the Etch A Sketch, including Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, pictured here.


“Most gave $5 but some gave us $100,” said Avery-Cheng.


There were challenges throughout the night, including one where a representative from each team had to find a cherry in a bowl filled with whipped cream – no hands allowed! Sarah Mootz from KLR finished first, snagging a $100 donation for the team.


There was a silent auction and each team brought items to be auctioned. Avery-Cheng noted some much-appreciated donations were made by district teachers, including the use her Cape Cod house for a week from Virginia Gallet, three paintings by art teacher Jay Brooks and shadow boxes made by retiring KLR teacher Claudia Cordisco.


The MTA raised $6,000 this year, coming in second (for the second year in a row) to the Liberty and Monticello Rotary Clubs. Avery-Cheng said there is indeed a rivalry brewing between the two groups.


In all, the event raised $42,000 for the local Boys and Girls Clubs.


“It is important for us to be a part of this because the Boys and Girls Clubs do so much for our district,” said Avery-Cheng, noting they run the after-school program at the middle school. “We work with them and we are so grateful for what they do in our school community.”


They are making a huge impact, just like our teachers.


We congratulate everyone who participated and shine the spotlight on our MTA/Toy Story team:
Connie Avery-Cheng
Barbara Bitjeman
Katrina Futrell
Kathleen Mabee
Sarah Mootz
Kim Murphy
Paige Schoonmaker
Ryan Speer
Jill Yannetta