Support our mission
 
Principal Bob Nance waves to students at Patrick Henry Elementary School Friday from the school roof. Nance challenged his students that if they read enough books throughout the school year, he would spend the day on the roof.
Principal Bob Nance waves to students at Patrick Henry Elementary School Friday from the school roof. Nance challenged his students that if they read enough books throughout the school year, he would spend the day on the roof. (Rick Scavetta / S&S)

HEIDELBERG, Germany — Patrick Henry Elementary School principal Bob Nance spent Friday reading “Great Buildings,” a coffee-table book on historical architecture.

What made his actions unusual wasn’t what he was doing, but where he was doing it.

Nance spent the day on the school’s roof after his students lived up to a challenge to read more books during the school year.

Nance, who has worked for 35 years in education, pulled stunts before to challenge his pupils, he said. “But this is the most unusual,” he said.

With 1,080 students, the elementary school has the largest population of any Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe, Nance said.

“We knew we needed something big to catch their attention,” Nance said. “This seemed to do the trick.”

Using an online program called Reading Counts, students earned a set amount of points for each book they read. At the beginning of the school year, Nance promised to spend the day on the roof if the students earned 50,000 points.

They surpassed the goal, Nance said, by about 5,000 points.

“We made a real push this year to find ways for kids to read non-fiction,” he said.

In addition to Nance’s spectacle, students earned awards and certificates for the number of books read. But the real reward was seeing their principal keep his promise.

Around 8:40 a.m., firefighters from the 411th Base Support Battalion used their ladder truck to hoist Nance to the rooftop.

He relaxed on a rocking chair with a strategically place umbrella nearby in case the gray haze overhead turned to storm clouds. He promised to stay up there, rain or shine, he said.

“It’s great to motivate kids to read,” Nance said. “I’m glad I did it.”

Migrated

stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up