ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A teacher in a rural southwestern New Mexico high school has found a novel way to motivate students to graduate – promise them the trip of their dreams and get them to help raise money for it.
Judy Morris offered to take the juniors at Cobre High School in Bayard, near Silver City, to Hawaii in 2019 if they keep their grades up, don’t get pregnant and succeed in getting their high school diploma.
“In New Mexico, graduation rates are very low and teen pregnancy is high. I wanted to change that a bit,” Morris said, “So I said, if you keep your end of the deal, I’ll somehow get you to Hawaii. I’ll do my part.”
Morris had success with a similar incentive in 2015 when she was teaching at a local middle school. She promised students a trip to Disneyland if they could maintain a 3.5 grade point average and perform proficiently in the required standardized testing. Nearly three dozen kids met the goal. She took them to California where they visited Disneyland, toured a World War II battleship, watched an Angels baseball game and went to the beach.
Many of the middle school students are now in her junior class at Cobre High. When she proposed the deal last spring, nearly half of the class of roughly 90 students voluntarily committed to the deal.
The school itself is not involved due to liability concerns, she said. Morris found a travel company to arrange the trip. The students have to raise about $3,000 each through their own efforts.
Morris said that’s an “enormous sum” for local families. But the kids have been hard at it since last April, with raffles, a golf tournament, bingo and an upcoming posole sale for Super Bowl Sunday. Donations can be made by going to Fundmytravel.com and searching for “Aloha Spirit.”