Event raised $$7,735 for Wonderfeet
By Katy Savage
After students left school for the day, teachers at Rutland Town School danced down the hallways, in the classrooms and on the playground in a choreographed dance to “Let’s Groove Tonight” by Larry D and the Sly Guys. They sang the lyrics to “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, and hit the beach to “Holiday” by Madonna in a lip sync video competition held by Wonderfeet Kid’s Museum.
A total of 17 teachers and staff members from all departments participated. Rutland town librarian Kelly McGee edited the video, while teacher Tegan Waite, who is a dancer outside of school and a teacher at the Vermont Center for Dance Education, developed the choreography.
On Oct. 23, they found out that they had won the competition and raised the most money for Wonderfeet. Rutland Town Elementary School is getting three field trips to Wonderfeet in Rutland this year.
“It was just a blast, everybody was laughing and so excited about it,” Waite said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting to win. We all had fun; we all had a good time.”
Rutland Town was one of six schools that participated, including Barstow Elementary, Northwest Primary School, Northeast Primary, Christ the King and Proctor Elementary. The teachers chose the song they wanted to sing and developed their own dance routines.
Proctor Elementary teachers rewrote the lyrics of “Fancy Like” by Walker Hayes: “We’re Proctor Elementary and we’re doing things right, that’s how we do, how we do, fancy like,” the teachers sang.
One teacher at Barstow rode a skateboard down the hall, while other teachers danced with balloons, pool noodles and beach balls to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.
Northwest Primary teachers dressed up and belted the lyrics to “Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. Northeast teachers sang and danced to “ABC” by The Jackson 5 and teachers at Christ the King danced on the bleachers with pom-poms to “Lean on Me” by the Glee Cast.
“They really took this as an opportunity to do some staff building in a year where things have been very serious, very stressful for teachers,” Wonderfeet Executive Director Danielle Monroe said. “These are obviously staff that are very close, that have a lot of fun together, that have a great sense of humor. You can tell they were finding a lot of joy in doing this.”
A total of $7,735 was raised for Wonderfeet to provide funds for the access program, which gives low cost memberships to families in need.
More than 275 memberships are given out each year through the access program. Families that qualify can go to Wonderfeet for $15 a year.
“It makes Wonderfeet accessible to all the families in Rutland County,” Munroe said.
The top three teams each raised more than $1,000. Rutland Town raised $2,605, Proctor raised $1,275 and Northwest Primary raised $1,100.
The winner got to choose between having a school-wide family STEM night or taking three field trips to Wonderfeet. Rutland Town opted for the field trips. As the second and third place finishers, Rutland Northwest and Proctor will also get field trips to Wonderfeet this year.
This is Wonderfeet’s fifth year doing the lip sync battle. It was previously a live event at the Paramount Theatre, attended by hundreds of people. It was moved to a virtual setting in 2020 and continued virtually this year. Instead of performing in front of an audience, teachers submitted videos.
“It’s always been our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Munroe said. “Even though we changed the format, the community is still supporting this event.”
Rutland Town Principal Sarah Tetzlaff said it brought the staff together in otherwise trying times.
“It let us come together, and have some fun for a good cause,” said Tetzlaff, who also danced in the video. “We’ll definitely do it again.”
Rutland Town librarian Kelly McGee filmed and edited the video with the help of his son, a student at Castleton University. McGee filmed the first part of the video like the introduction to the “Brady Bunch” television show, featuring the teachers singing and dancing in squares.
McGee said the adults had to do what they constantly tell the kids — be brave and put themselves out there.
“The adults, when you put them on the spot, they’re almost like the kids — they’re so nervous and shy,” McGee said. “It was so fun seeing them in a different light. It was fun to watch them come out of their shell and just own it.”
McGee said it took multiple takes to get the video right.
“Everybody kept breaking up and laughing,” he said. “It was a great way to have some kinship, some camaraderie.”
The students also liked seeing their teachers being silly.
“Every time they come to the library they want to watch it again,” McGee said.