Popping up in trendy boutiques around the world and appearing on the wrists of rapper Lil Wayne and pop star Justin Bieber, Shocking Goat watches may be the new arm fashion accessory must-have. The Seattle-based company has also made great strides in other areas, choosing education as their philanthropic focus.
Since Dec. 2011, the company has supported the efforts of a science teacher at Cascade Middle School, an inner-city Seattle school which is very ethnically diverse. Nearly 48 percent of students at the school are Asian and Pacific Islander and 38 percent are Hispanic. Almost 85 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price meals, said Assistant Principal Annika Mizuta.
In the past year, a positive behavior program has been implemented throughout the Highline School District. Mizuta said this has resulted in a “dramatic reduction in office referrals and suspensions” at Cascade. The numbers for both have been cut in half since last year this time, she said.
Positive behavior is enforced through the program by incentivizing it with printed paper which students can deposit into their “checking accounts” on the site, LearningEarnings.com. The cash can be used to purchase items such as iTunes cards, sports balls, popcorn, and other donations that the LearningEarnings site receives.
Science teacher Anna Kramer added to the program in her classroom in December 2011 by allowing her students to use their “LE Bucks” to enter a drawing for a much larger prize — a Shocking Goat watch.
“I had been wearing mine to tempt them for a few months,” said Kramer. The watches come in numerous bold colors and have an interchangeable band and face.
“It was successful enough that the company is providing us with more to try it as a school,” said Mizuta. Kramer has been running the drawing every three weeks since December.
Dhruva Mikkelsen, founder and president of Shocking Goat, has a background in mentoring and teaching. He said the company would initially donate over $1,000 in watches depending on the overall effect.
“Anna has made it so the watches are a highly valued commodity and it keeps her students wanting to turn their homework in over and again, on time,” said Mikkelsen.
“The idea of this program is it targets all of our students, regardless of gender or ethnicity, and enables us to deal with behavior in a consistent and fair manner,” said Mizuta.
Previously, the colorful watch company partnered with the Mona Foundation, a grassroots initiative that supports education for women and children. The company donated proceeds from a fashion show they had sponsored as well as a percentage of their sales in the summer of 2011. They also launched the Get One, Give One campaign in partnership with Rainier Scholars and similar organizations nationwide. For every watch purchased, one was donated to an excelling student.
“Shocking Goat was founded from the understanding that how we are educated as individuals, through school, through our families, through our life experiences, creates the overall world that we live in,” said Mikkelsen.
Mikkelsen said he hopes Shocking Goat will be able to support a learning incentive program nationwide. His philosophy is that the bridge between material things kids are commonly brought up wanting through television, Facebook, and smart phones must be connected with learning.
“It will catch on like wildfire if we can get other exceptional teachers behind it,” he said.