‘Sir. Julian Needs New Shoes: Philadelphia Students’ GoFundMe on Teacher’s Shoes Goes Viral

The students in Julian Perrin’s history class at Tech Freire Charter High School in North Philadelphia love their teacher. They just have a problem with his presentation in class:

His shoes – a pair of well-worn chukka boots that became the butt of good-natured ribs.

“They’re hideous,” wrote one of his 14-year-old students, Christina, “and he’s had enough of being bullied.”

So, as the school day ended on Friday, she and her classmates decided to do something about it — they gave a “Mr. Campaign Julian needs a new pair of shoes on GoFundMe.

But what started as a playful April Fool’s Day joke quickly caught fire on social media and within 24 hours their fundraising effort went viral. He has since raised over $2,600.

“Kids are losing their minds,” said Bailey Fulton, one of Perrin’s colleagues and a high school science teacher.

Perrin, 28, who has taught at the school for four years, said he hasn’t worn the battered boots since the start of this year – and, for the record, he supports them as a clothing choice.

“Students made fun of them and I fed off of them to build relationships with them,” he said. “He was a great connector for us.”

Perrin said it was another teacher who first alerted him to what his students were up to through a FaceTime call during his penultimate class of the day on Friday.

“All my students [were] shouting that they were going to launch a GoFundMe,” he said. “I found it hilarious and endearing, and shared the situation with my class.”

His deputy headmaster, Brian Galetto, said Mr Julian enjoyed his pupils’ teasing, although he was overwhelmed by his appeal on social media.

“Julian is pretty sweet,” he said. “He has a phenomenal sense of humor. … The kids love Julian. They really care about him, and I think he felt that. But now he’s like, “What the hell is this?” It’s much bigger than he imagined.

It all started Friday night when Maddie Leubbert, an English teacher at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, noticed the student fundraiser and shared it on Twitter with the joking message, “Philadelphia kids are wild.”

The tweet struck a chord with educators. He has since received over 132,000 likes and 14,000 retweets.

Quinta Brunson a respondent tweeted at the creator of the ABC comedy Abbott Elementary Schoola humorous take on life in a fictional Philadelphia school, “the kids wrote you a new episode plot”.

On Saturday, PA Youth Vote, a nonpartisan coalition of students and educators, even clung to the campaign to raise awareness of underfunded schools in the city.

Originally, Perrin’s students had set a goal of raising $100 to buy him a new, sleeker pair of Nike Blazer ’77s. But with the extra money the students have raised, the money could be used to fund more supplies or activities for the class.

Even some of Perrin’s colleagues at Tech Freire – a campus of around 450 students across from the Uptown Theater on North Broad Street – took part.

On the contrary, Galetto said, the joke speaks to the strength of the relationship Perrin established with his students.

“The students who put this together have all A’s in his class,” he said. “They are enthusiastic and appreciate the relationship they have with him. You won’t see this often, where there’s this level of comfort of banter between students and their teacher. »

Tech Freire, launched in 2016, has placed this open dialogue between teachers and students at the forefront of its mission. The campus is named after Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator who developed the theory that active classroom participation produces better results than simple lectures from a teacher.

“To learn effectively, there must be active dialogue – participants speak with respect and love but use their voices,” Galetto said. “We are very proud of the community that we are trying to develop here.

Perrin, meanwhile, said he’s still coming to terms with his shoe’s moment in internet infamy.

“I’m not really a fan of being in the spotlight, but there’s not much to do at this point,” he said. “Also some of these comments on social media…a wild bunch of people in this world.”

As for his students?

“I love the relationships I have with my kids and I hope people understand how important it is to foster those relationships and give students a voice,” he said. “I hope my kids will see how loud their voices are and how awesome they are.”

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