Penny Harvest: Abe Lincolns Like Whoa

Jose Vilson

Jay-Z Cigar

I hate to brag, but:

“Mazel Tov! It’s a celebration, chickens!
L’Chayim! I wish for you a hundred years of success, but it’s my time!”

courtesy of Jay-Z from “Roc Boys”

With little paper promotion (mostly word-of-mouth) and without a foundation for a Penny Harvest Committee until about 2 weeks in, my school collected approximately over 2,000 dollars. By my estimations, that might be a record for my school, so I’m incredibly excited. We had classes that unfortunately registered at nil, but the rest of the school definitely compensated for the lack of participation.

And I hate to say this because I understand who reads this, but this was also a covert and independent mission on my end. I abided by the regulations laid out for the school as well as the Penny Harvest organization, but I knew that in order for this fundraising to surpass all expectations, I needed to slide under the (rather superfluous) red tape.

For instance, I didn’t necessarily agree that I had to check with my “chief of staff” for every little thing I needed, nor did I think I needed my advertisements revised and reassessed constantly. At some point, when we’re supposedly beholden to someone else’s whims, we need to seriously consider if the person’s asking legitimate questions or if they’re just making questions up, knowing you’ve covered all the bases.

Let us concentrate on the positive. I’m thankful for a few things:

1) We ended Penny Harvest in an astonishingly orderly fashion. Everything just fell into place, and some of the policies I instilled earlier in the year really paid off at the end.

2) We have a strong core of people from all floors that will represent our school well for the rest of the year.

3) I can continue to instill ideas of community service for the rest of the year without the worries of money and with the trust of teachers and administration.

4) We’ve gotten the school excited about donating to organizations that help with causes like the Dominican Republic relief fund (a popular one at my school), diabetes, breast cancer, or the homeless, depending what direction the winning classes want to take.

5) I also look forward to having my preps and profs back. It’s a huge sacrifice to be the Penny Harvest coach. It was my first year, and my system, while more efficient and more homeroom-centered, took some readjusting for the school to get used to.

I don’t get paid by any of the Penny Harvest people to do this, so know that I think Penny Harvest is an awesome event that people can honestly contribute to. When we can get to the point of developing curriculum across the subjects (and not just in math) for this event, we’ll be on a whole ‘nother plane. Kids really do get excited because no matter how minuscule the donation, we can all in some way commit to some donations to people less fortunate than we are. Even when administrations change, the Penny Harvest has a reputation around the school. Every class really rallied around to support.

But of course, this is only phase numero uno. I look forward to the rest.

For more about Penny Harvest and the Common Cents organization, go to

For more about my Penny Harvest experience, read:

So Close I Can Taste It, Penny Harvest Math, and Penny Harvest Mania.

Shout-outs to NYC Educator and Ms. Whatsit for mentioning me in their Education Carnival and Teacher Potluck, respectively.

Sweet …

jose, who will definitely blog on Thanksgiving …