A Ferndale Elementary School social studies teacher uses his #AmericaBeard as a creative way to motivate his students to do their best schoolwork, krcrtv.com reports.


What started five years ago has now become a sort of tradition for Shane Totten, who teaches social studies to 7th and 8th graders at the school. After noticing many of his students commenting on his beard after no-shave November, Totten had an idea.


“I realized maybe I can tie this into their project and get them motivated to do their best,” Totten said.


Totten began giving his students some say into how he shaves and styles his beard. He started handing out coupons that he calls “beard-o’s” to students who turned in exemplary work, met deadlines and acted like good citizens. Students have a few months leading up to the school’s history day, when a big project is due, to earn as many “beard-o’s” as they can.


Totten says each of his students get to vote on how they would like to see him style his beard, but students who collect the most “beard-o’s” end up having more influence over how the beard ultimately looks. Totten says the process is designed to simulate the electoral college’s role in the country’s presidential elections.


“For each of my class periods, the top earners for those periods get to kind of be the electoral college,” Totten said. “I let all my students vote on what beard choice they think should be the choice, but ultimately the electoral college, those students with the most ‘beard-o’s,’ get to make the final choice.”


This year, Totten sported the Hulihee beard style after his students held their election. The Hulihee won the popular vote, and after the electoral college held a brief meeting to discuss their preference, they decided to side with people and make the Hulihee the final choice.


Totten says he usually keeps the beard style that is chosen for about a week before he sheds it.



In years past, Totten says his students have elected he wear the beard styles of Franz Joseph, the late-19th to early-20th century Austrian emperor, and Captain Jack Sparrow, the protagonist in the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean.

credit: @americabeardco


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