Masters Touch Christian School students break national record for days without missed homework assignments
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:02 PM
ARLINGTON On Dec. 18, the 38 sixth- through eighth-grade students of Jim Underwoods seven classes at Masters Touch Christian School set a national record, when they went 63 days without missing any homework assignments.
Underwoods gentle voice and subdued smile might seem out of place on a man who echoes his students descriptions of him as a fair but firm instructor, since he cites John Housemans character from The Paper Chase as an example of how young minds should be challenged. Underwoods latest challenge to his students was inspired by New York City schoolteacher Ron Clark, whose book outlined concepts of behavior for students, from citizenship to etiquette, that Underwood readily agreed with.
Among the anecdotes from Clarks book, that caught Underwoods eye, was the story of how Clark had pushed his students to go longer and longer stretches of days without missing any homework assignments, eventually reaching 62 consecutive days.
Breaking that record could prove to be a daunting task for any instructor, much less one whose classes include more than half the total number of his schools student body, and whose subjects are as diverse as American and Biblical history, English, literature and language arts, but for Underwood, such a goal was merely an extension of the standards to which he already holds his students.
No one is allowed to interfere with the learning or safety of others, and everyone is required to do whats expected and to do it well, said Underwood, outlining the two major rules for students in his classes. They have to work together, to help each other out. I have zero tolerance for crocodile tears.
As of Dec. 20, not only had all seven of Underwoods classes continued to turn in all of their assignments, but his students had started to gain some fame for their achievements. Sixth-grader Amy Zimmerman, seventh-grader Stephen Stauffer and eighth-grader Katrina Overgaard are all new to MTCS, as of this school year, but after being interviewed by KCIS 630 AM Dec. 13, they were starting to feel like old hands at speaking to the media.
Zimmerman credited her increased focus and organization with helping her to turn in all of her assignments on time, just as Overgaard stressed the importance of making sure everything gets done as soon as it can be. As for Stauffer, his college-bound aspirations motivated his efforts, since everything matters from now on, as Underwood told him.
All three students had experienced close calls in nearly missing their assignments, especially since Zimmerman learned the importance of organization, when she almost couldnt find where shed filed one of her assignments. However, the trio agreed that weve gotten in the habit of turning it in on time now, which marks a striking contrast to last year, when Zimmerman in particular admitted she was missing a lot of assignments.
Overgaards praise of Underwood as an instructor was shared by her peers, since they appreciated his acting as a safety net, in Stauffers words, because if we dont understand something, hell help us out.
Hes always open to questions, Overgaard said. He always knows what hes doing.
He shows us that we always have a chance to make our goals happen, as long as we work hard, Zimmerman said.