penny harvest Archives - The Jose Vilson

penny harvest

Shower (and Sleet) The People

December 13, 2007

Penny Harvest FieldToday was the Penny Harvest Field Day for my school, and I, along with the principal, assistant principal, and 14 Penny Harvesters from my school, went to go check out the Penny Field in Rockerfeller Center. When I tell you that the sight was amazing, I’d truly be understating the experience. From my own understanding, this might be the first time students and coaches alike could visualize the impact that our collective monies could have in helping the less fortunate.

Though Mother Nature made the weather consciously frigid, and coincidentally the pennies we touched, it didn’t prevent us from enjoying the experience. We were able to post our Philanthropy Flag up in the pennies and actually hold them, too (some children took a few of the pennies while others flung them, but fortunately, it wasn’t any of our children). We also took tons of awesome pictures and found our school’s name field-side after a little trepidation about that. And while it only took a few minutes to take pictures, see the field, and check out the other colors of the other flags (which is part of another activity), I’m sure it will last a lifetime for all of them.

I also had to laugh because one of the helpers, whose name I recall, but won’t put on here, says, “Are you Jose Vilson?

yeeeesss …

“Oh just checking. I’m (name here) and I just wanted to let you know I read your blog.”

Laughter ensues. Random, random, random, but I love it nonetheless.

But of course, it only got better. After lunch, the assistant principal had a surprise for the students: The Top of the Rock! Yes, we went to the top of Rockerfeller Center. Of course, the kids’ emotions ranged anywhere from complete euphoria to queasy apprehension, but overall, it was positive, and the experience was even more positive for them. We learned about the History of Rockerfeller Center, went up 63 flights in 42 seconds on an elevator, and landed on the upper ridges of the building. Glass borders protected us from doing anything dumb (or the kids for that matter). After I informed them that, at that point, they were actually in a cloud, their eyes just grew so wide.

Of course, the most fun of the day came from the Target Interactive Breezeway. Essentially, it’s a room that lights up, and senses humans inside it, to the point where different color lights follow you around. It’s a little eerie but awesome nonetheless.

Can you believe some of these kids have never been out of a 10-block radius from their houses? Some of them have never seen the Rockerfeller Christmas Tree, Rockerfeller Center for that matter, have never been that far downtown, have never been in a cloud, and (just like the rest of us) have NEVER seen a Penny Harvest Field.

Then again, if you don’t shower the people, they might never know what water is …

jose, who went awry from what he wanted to write about today, but d’ah well …

Penny Harvest Gangsta


GamblingA few notes:

- If you ever wonder whether I reply to comments, yes, I do. Just check back on the post that you wrote in. Then again, I’ll also usually e-mail, too. After all these years (including the Xanga days), I’m still humbled by all the responses.

- Tomorrow’s Pick Up Day for the Penny Harvest, and I’m very excited, simply because having all this money is making me a little skittish. As if you needed an update, we actually had about $2,193, so I’m very proud of my school and their participation. I truly feel my committee and I did a lot of work to make this successful. The teachers also cultivated a sense of pride in those kids, not just for “winning,” but also to contribute the most they could.

- Reviewed Common’s thisisme then album on Click if you’re interested.

- Finally made my Wish List. I have a million other things I wish I want, but really, that’s a solid list.

- I got a great shout-out from Simon J. Black, who also wrote about the Rock the Bells concert I told you about this summer. I’ll definitely have to expound on my love for hip-hop this week.

- Top Search Terms for my site: “workshop model,” “a rod,” “48 laws of power,” “across the universe layouts,” and “jayson tirado”, which all make sense. I’m just glad people aren’t searching for porn around these parts. Though almost surprisingly, people are searching for me directly, too. Sweet.

- I went to Atlantic City with my girl, and I lost all my money … on clothes! Imagine the biggest name-brands at cheap knock-off prices. Eddie Bauer, Nautica, Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren, … oh my. I already consider myself the flyest teacher in the school, so after tomorrow, the principal’s going to have to give me the crown as soon as I walk in. (Again, a little hyperbole never hurt anyone).

In any case, I sat at one of the slot machines, and already felt a little detached from this experience. My type of games usually involve a plumber with a nasty addiction to mushrooms and LSD or a set of cards we have to place in free cells to win. As the little colors flew past my eyes, and the double and triple jackpots teased me with their promises of fortunes, I wondered just how addicting the games must be for the rest of the denizens of Caesar’s Casino. I saw one lady’s butt planted and growing roots in those black cushy rotating chairs. Some of them had a rhythm, some of them switched it up depending on their luck, but most of them were 50+ years of age.

I thought about whether they’re playing these casino games and the lottery at the same time, or they abandoned the lotto for more instant (yet mathematically minuscule) fortunes. I tried my luck, after learning how it works, and bam: Jackpot. 30$ in my pocket from a $20 voucher for going on the Greyhound. In other words, I made profit.

Mathematically, I knew I had to leave immediately because in any of those games, the ratio between the money made / time and money spent wasn’t in my favor. To think, even with the way the system is currently shafting teachers out of time and money, I still rather play those odds than pulling a black handle for a living. But that’s another gamble altogether.

jose, who’ll be discussing hip-hop in the classroom this week, which I’m sure this edublog nominee will enjoy …


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 …


So Close I Can Taste It

November 14, 2007

I got some updates on Penny Harvest at my school: So far, the 8th grade has collected a good 150+ pounds of pennies. The 7th grade is at 250+. The 5th grade (a 4 class grade) is at 100 or so, and the 6th grade is almost at 400. In other words, we’re kicking butt […]

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Penny Harvest Mania

October 25, 2007

Tomorrow’s the first Weigh-in at my school for Penny Harvest, the annual system-wide fundraising event for charities across the US sponsored by Common Cents. I’m anxious and excited all at once to see the turnout for the first week. It’s my first time coaching, but I seem to have already caused waves. (One of the […]

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Penny Harvest Math

October 16, 2007

Ah, I’m taking a breather from politics. Not that I don’t like duking it out with different individuals on my beliefs, but because I like going over a variety of topics that find I find interesting. It was good to see how many of you responded to the last 2 posts (“A Synopsis on the […]

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