Roxborough teacher gets cut for the cure

When Levering Elementary School in Roxborough joined a recent School District fundraising initiative for breast cancer research, John Quirus got creative.

The city-wide competition, a partnership with the Philadelphia Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, encouraged each student to donate $1 to the global organization.

Students who did – between Oct. 17 and Nov. 4 – were eligible to participate in three “Dress Down for the Cure” days, where in-school uniforms were optional.

But Quirus, a sixth grade teacher at Levering, decided to give his students, and the school, some extra incentives to raise more.

“I thought, ‘I gotta be a role model and go a little above and beyond,'” said Quirus, who teaches math and social studies at the Ridge Avenue school.

If his students wore pink – a color tied to breast cancer awareness – during the event’s “dress down” days, Quirus pledged to add another dollar to the pot.

If they gave more than a dollar, they earned some free time on classroom computers.

Quirus even offered up his hair for the cause. Students had the chance to be picked to shave his head through their donations.

Gabrielle O’Brien, a sixth grader, won the honor of shearing her teacher’s head along with a third-grade student.

“It felt great,” said O’Brien with a shy grin.

Overall, Quirus’ competition twists paid off.

Levering parents, teachers and students raised more than $400 with Quirus’ class raising nearly half of that amount. That total earned the sixth graders a place at a celebration held Nov. 22 at School District headquarters.

Eighty schools across the district raised a total of $40,580 for the Komen foundation.

Quirus hopes the experience taught his students a lesson that reaches beyond the classroom walls.

“Competition is really good. Winning something is really good. But helping people and putting smiles on their faces is something that will last a lot longer,” said Quirus.

“I’m hoping that this is something you’ll incorporate in your life for as long as you live – giving to others,” he told his class.

Quirus’ students said they’d be interested in donating to another cause next year – food pantries or animal shelters possibly.

As for next year’s incentive, Kimani Williams already had an idea.

“Next time we could dress Mr. Q as a girl,” said Williams.

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