After teacher's challenge, a well-deserved close shave

June 10, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

It was a bet the eighth-graders of Patuxent Valley Middl School couldn't resist: If 75 percent of them passed the Maryland Functional Math Test, they could shave off math teacher David Santoro's hair.

Yesterday, about 170 boisterous eighth-graders watched hairstylist Linda Scholsburg give Mr. Santoro a buzz cut in the school gym.

"We want bald, we want bald," chanted the students, cheering and applauding as they watched Mr. Santoro's locks fall to the floor.

"This is great," said guidance counselor Judy Girod as she and several other teachers looked on in amazement. "The kids love it."

Five students who had earned a perfect score of 419 got the first swipe at Mr. Santoro. Later, students were randomly selected to cut his hair.

Students said the challenge motivated them to perform better than they would have on the test, which must be passed to graduate from high school.

"I didn't study for the test but I tripled checked it," said Chong Park, 13.

They said they tried harder because they wanted to hold Mr. Santoro to his word. "I started paying attention in class just to get back at him," Chong said.

Others said they had wanted to enact symbolic revenge on all teachers -- through Mr. Santoro. "I thought it was exciting because I've always wanted to get back at them for giving me bad scores," said Matt Rimkunas, 14.

Mr. Santoro, a retired Navy pilot, said he had issued the challenge to teach the students several lessons.

"The kids saw that I made a commitment and they saw that I stuck to it," said Mr. Santoro, who got the idea from having watched commanding officers issue similar challenges to their troops.

Mr. Santoro said he also had wanted to motivate students. "We have all these fancy manipulatives in school now," he said. "But nothing worked as well as this challenge."

"Before, [students] didn't believe that he would go through with it," said Magda Zabramny, 14. "But now that he went through with it, they believe that teachers will do what they say."

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