Geartner’s T-shirt message catches board’s attention
MADISON – People sometimes need to let their message heard … or at least read on their T-shirt.
Jake Gaertner, a fifth-grader at West Madison Elementary School, joined some fellow Boy Scouts to attend the Madison Board of Education on April 30.
However, instead of wearing his Scout uniform, Jake wore his neon yellow T-shirt stating “FUND Gifted Education.” Jake and his fellow classmates in the gifted program have been wearing the T-shirts for public awareness about lack of funding.
In fact, seven of Wendy Tibbs’ gifted students traveled with the West Madison fourth grade on their annual spring trip to the State Capitol building. Their visit corresponds with their study of Alabama history and government. “My students wore their shirts to make a statement,” Tibbs said.
At the board meeting, “Jake wanted to make sure that the school board knew students wanted more funding,” Jake’s mother Katie Gaertner said. Jake’s father is Jeremy Gaertner.
A board member noticed Jake as soon as he entered the board room. “She came right up to him and asked if he would mind leading the Pledge of Allegiance,” Katie said.
As Jake led the pledge, other school board members noticed his shirt.
“During the meeting, board member Ranae Bartlett had Jake stand up and turn to the audience. She wanted to make sure that everyone saw his shirt,” Katie said.
Bartlett told the audience about the West Madison students’ visit to Montgomery last month. “Ms. Bartlett encouraged Jake to wear his shirt often and to make sure he wore it when he was around government officials,” Katie said.
After the meeting, the board invited Jake to join them for a photograph. “The Madison Board of Education was very welcoming and made a point to include Jake in the meeting,” Katie said.