STMA teacher clothed in cow costume for a cause

STMA Middle School West teacher Ryan Canton wears this cow costume as part of a charity challenge that was met by students at the school. They collected enough money to buy a dairy cow and two chickens for a family in Africa.

Last year the students collected 3,113 pairs of shoes (and cash) for St. Michael resident and African native Funwi Tita’s Making a Difference International. MADI donates humanitarian items back to Tita’s native Africa.

Because the students smashed the goal of 2,400 pairs of shoes, teacher Michelle Heizelman died her hair pink. This year’s challenge was to raise more than $500 to buy a milk cow for the World Vision charity.

“Page Academy (Middle School West’s alternative learning program) came up with this idea after visiting Funwi Tita’s website ( and learning about his experience growing up in Africa and receiving a gift of a cow from an aid program prompted them to want to give someone else that opportunity,” Heizelman said. “We had just four days to collect the money since March 18 was a snow day. Volunteer students donned a cow costume and rang cowbells to remind students to donate.”

The school collected a total of $526, which was enough to buy a dairy cow and two chickens for a family in Africa.

“Because we met our goal, the students voted that Mr. Ryan Canton, our teacher of the year finalist, would wear the cow costume all day Tuesday, April 2,” Heizelman said. “I believe Mr. Tita struck a chord with these students when he told them that it’s OK to be an American teenager, but that they can help those in need and indeed make a difference in the lives of others. It is clear that this message has struck home with the students at Middle School West.”