Students and Alumni Fulfill Bradshaw Mountain Teacher's Dream

06 March 2017
Current students and alumni clap for Bradshaw Mountain teacher George Ponte after his speech thanking them for making his dream of visiting the Washington DC Vietnam War Memorial come true on Friday March 6th, 2017 at Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley, Arizona. All Photos by: Torrence Dunham

Community Raises over $16,000 for Teacher's Washington DC Trip.

PRESCOTT VALLEY- Mr. George Ponte has spent twenty-five years of his nearly forty-year teaching career impacting the lives of many at Bradshaw Mountain High School. One of those students was Chris Ames who took Ponte’s class in the 2000-2001 school year when he was a senior. 

“It didn’t really matter what he was teaching, he was so passionate about what he taught,” Ames said. “At the same time, you could pull him aside if you were having problems and he would drop what he was doing and listen.”

“Just a friend, a mentor and a great teacher,” Ames continued.

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During a recent camping and hunting trip, Ames was talking about former teachers with some friends. Ames mentioned he wanted to do something special for his former teacher and send Ponte to Washington DC.

Ponte aspired to travel to Washington DC and visit the Vietnam War Memorial for a while because he and his friend decided to enlist for the Vietnam War. Due to the lottery, his friend was picked while Ponte stayed home and went to college.

“He went there and (he was) never the same,” Ponte said. “So that’s why I want to stop by and leave a memento for him.”

Knowing his former educator’s desire to visit Washington DC, Ames set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $8,100. In just one week, the community doubled the amount and raised $16,700.

“It’s a prime example of what a teacher can do,” Bradshaw Mountain Principal Kort Miner said. “A teacher that’s involved with kids not only in the classroom but out of the classroom. If you want a definition, you got it today. Kids care when you show you care.”

On Friday afternoon, Miner brought Ponte into his office as alumni and seniors gathered in the basketball gym. Knowing how much respect the students have for Ponte, Miner asked him to have a discussion during an assembly about senior pranks. Miner mentioned Ponte took out a piece of paper and jotted down a few notes for a presentation.

When Ponte entered the gym, he wasn’t surprised to see the students because he was expecting to present the dangers of senior pranks. However, what did surprise him was to see his former student Ames standing with an envelope. Ames is a Marine so Ponte said he thought his former student was there to recruit. Instead, Ames handed Ponte the letter. When Ponte opened it, he looked down and smiled.

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“It’s tremendous, I can’t believe this came from all the students,” Ponte said. “That’s what makes it special.”

Ponte then expressed his gratitude and took pictures with all those who helped him fulfill his dream.

“When you go about teaching, sometimes you don’t realize what kind of effect you are having on kids,” Ponte said. “I never dreamed I had this type of impact.”

Ponte began his career teaching in New York with inner-city schools. Throughout his time spent as an educator, he created a bond with students through mutual respect and understanding.

“The big thing we always talk about in class is respect. I always tell the kids I will give you that respect and I know I will get it back,” Ponte said. “All kids no matter how tough they are, they are going to always respond to respect. When they know you care, they will do anything for you.”

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On Friday, students throughout his nearly forty-year teaching career responded.

“All these kids I’ve taught for these past thirty-nine years and the ones to come, they kick ass,” Ponte said.

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