The Taco Man doesn't mind his nickname
Spradling Elementary has enjoyed an active team of long-time partners who work well together. Arvest Bank, Atwoods, Crystal Palace Skate Center, Girls Inc. and Midland Bowl are partners. The K-MAC Enterprises divisions of Taco Bell and KFC are partners who even recruited their advertising agency, Williams-Crawford and Associates, to join the team.
One veteran volunteer is known at school as “the Taco Bell Man.” Chris Gosch, a district supervisor of nine restaurants, enjoys the nickname (he sometimes leads around a giant taco costumed-helper) and has been a volunteer representing K-MAC through the administration of more than one principal.
Current principal Robyn Dawson calls Gosch a “guns a-blazin’” kind of guy with a great sense of fun. “Not only will he volunteer for every activity, he volunteers any partner that is not present,” she said. This year, the partners and school decided to try a one-on-one mentoring program with men and boys.
“At first, we were all scared to death,” Gosch confessed. “Even though I have four kids, I worried about what we would talk about.” The mentors initially worked as a group, shooting baskets and talking with the boys together. But soon they developed individual relationships.
The student Gosch befriended has done very well, he was proud to say. They made a deal that if the student had no behavior issues for two weeks, Gosch would treat him to a lunch.
“The student not only passed the two-week period, he was not in trouble for anything once he was mentored,” the principal reported.
While shopping with his own famiy this year, Gosch was surprised (and tickled) when a young mall clerk recognized him from years ago at Spradling Elementary.
"Hey, I know you," the clerk said. "You're the Taco Bell man!"
It gave Gosch the feeling that he may have been making an impression through the years.
A NEW PARTNER GETS HOOKED ON HELPING
Bennett Nolan of Nolan, Caddell & Reynolds committed the law firm this year as a new partner and they really jumped in with both feet.
“Ms. Dawson asked our Sunday school class for help,” Bennett Nolan explained. “We said we’d like to try to make a difference.” For their first experience, NCR adopted the fifth grade.
The firm sent a minimum of two staff members every other week for direct classroom work with reading, science labs and math. They helped celebrate when their students “beat the district” in average test scores. Nolan served as a coach to the school’s track team by arranging practices and attending the meet.
With all their children grown, Tammy Nolan, a former teacher, took on three girls as a mentor.
“We spent time making scrapbooks about them,” Tammy explained. “Sometimes it’s easier to talk while your hands are busy. ”
Tammy encouraged one of her shy students to reveal her ability to sing in the school talent show, which she did and did well.
NCR was recognized as a New Partnership of the Year, but the rewards they really cherish came from the kids, Bennett Nolan said.
“They’re so appreciative of you just being there,” he said. NCR is hooked and will continue as a partner next year.