A group of young people hugging on stage.
TFA Kansas City Shark Tank contestants celebrate on stage.

Teach For America Kansas City corps members and alumni shine on Shark Tank: Teacher Edition

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On Monday, October 24th, a sold out crowd of over 500 community members, school leaders and educators came together at The Gem Theater for Teach For America Kansas City’s (TFA KC) second annual Shark Tank: Teacher Edition. Six TFA KC corps members and alumni pitched their new projects to a Shark panel of Kansas City leaders including Royals catcher Salvador Perez, City Gym founder Hailee Bland Walsh, Kansas City philanthropist and co-founder of University Academy Shirley Helzberg and Roasterie founder Danny O’Neill. Each project was created by the teachers in order to meet a need they had identified among their students.

TFA Kansas City Shark Tank contestants stand in a row.
Six TFA Kansas City corps members and alumni pitched their new projects to a Shark panel of Kansas City leaders.

The evening started off with an opening performance by the University Academy student choir singing “Rise Up” led by TFA KC corps member Amanda Adreani (Kansas City Corps ‘15) and TFA KC alum Audrey Pribnow (Kansas City Corps ‘08) accompanying on the piano. Following this performance, a video update from the inaugural TFA KC Shark Tank contestants played so audience members could hear and see how the funding was used since the last year.

A group of young African-American students singing on stage.
University Academy student choir singing “Rise Up.”

In total, the six contestants were awarded over $30,000. Ticket sales from the audience made up close to $5,000, Hallmark sponsored a $20,000 fund.  The Sharks and live audience personally donated additional funds.  Since the event, members from the audience have donated services and financial donations to help the teachers take their projects to the next level.

A group of people stand on stage, celebrating with an explosion of confetti.
In total, the six contestants were awarded over $30,000.

Project Overview:

Isao Osuga (Alta Vista High School, Kansas City Corps ‘09) wants to bring juicing to his high school students. He believes that starting the day with a nutrient filled vegetable and fruit juice would improve his students’ overall health and lead to increased energy throughout the entire day. Isao will consult with health experts to set this program up at his school and track his students’ health data to track results. The Sharks awarded Isao $3,000 in funding and the audience selected Isao as their second favorite pitch of the night which resulted in an additional $2,000 in funding. 

Joey Saunders (United Inner City Services, Home of St. Mark Child and Family Development Center, Kansas City Corps ‘15) will purchase video equipment and editing software to begin allowing his pre-K students to be the authors of their own stories so that they aren’t misrepresented by media or others. Only eight percent of children’s literature books include characters that identify as people of color. Joey wants to change this and received $6,000 of funding from the Sharks to do so. 

Jenna Headrick and Jostna Dash (East High School, Kansas City Corps ‘14) - In a joint pitch, Jostna and Jenna pitched projects that will allow their students to gain access and exposure to real world experiences, outside the walls of their classroom. Jenna wants to take her New American students, who have just arrived to the United States with little formal education, on field trips around Kansas City. Jostna is an advanced English teacher who wants to take her students to Washington, DC for a college visit and service trip The Sharks awarded Jenna and Jostna $3,000 each and they received the audience favorite pitch which granted them an additional $3,000.

Giorgio Griffin (Hogan Prep, Kansas City Corps ‘14) is a special education teacher who has challenges finding a quiet and confidential space for her students to take tests. In order to solve this problem, she has created a plan for pop up classrooms which would allow students to take a test within a classroom while having privacy and quiet, which they need to accommodate their learning styles. With accordion style walls, portable desks and chairs, Giorgio will create two classrooms from one. The Sharks awarded her $3,000 in funding to make pop up classrooms a reality. 

Kyle – Prescott Ogunbase (Ewing Marion Kauffman School, Kansas City Corps ‘15) is taking fitness to the next level. As a science and fitness teacher, he wants to combine the two subjects so that students learn how their bodies work and create healthy habits now. He’s creating a completely new curriculum that will combine science and fitness -tracking health indicators like heart rate -so students are able to learn about their own data and take the initiative on creating habits that make them feel healthy. The Sharks awarded Kyle-Prescott $5,000 to create his new Fitness 2.0 curriculum.