Teachers Can Vie For White Board, School Supply Funds

POCOMOKE CITY – A Pocomoke City company wants to celebrate the start of the school year with a chance for teachers to win a tool that will help them in the classroom and increase their own safety.

Hardwire, the armor manufacturing company based in Pocomoke City, is offering a first of its kind contest that will provide one winning teacher with a bulletproof whiteboard and $500 for school supplies.

“We do expect responses from across the country if not from across the world,” said George Tunis, chief executive of Hardwire.

Hardwire launched the contest this week through social media. Teachers are invited to submit a 60-second video outlining why they want a whiteboard shield for their classroom. The winning educator will receive one of Hardwire’s bulletproof whiteboards, which sell for a retail price of $399, and a $500 Staples gift card.

“Teachers are always clamoring for funds for classroom supplies,” Tunis said. “We thought this would be a neat thing to do — give away a whiteboard and help with their budget.”

Tunis says he has a panel of folks lined up to judge the contest and that he expects to have an array of videos entered by the Sept. 30 deadline.

“There are some very creative people out there,” he said. “I bet we see all kinds of different things.”

Though the contest was just launched Monday, Tunis said it had been heavily shared among social media sites.

Hardwire, long known for its composite armor, started manufacturing bulletproof whiteboards after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. The first school outfitted with the boards, which can be used as shields, was Worcester Preparatory School. Since then, they’ve been purchased by numerous schools throughout the country and even in other countries.

“They’re very popular,” Tunis said. “School safety is on everybody’s minds. There’s a lot of violence in the world and we see this as a very simple defensive measure.”

He said the 18- by 20-inch whiteboard was a common sense safety tool and he compared it to a fire extinguisher.

“In a situation it’s not going to replace the police, just like a fire extinguisher doesn’t replace the need for the fire department. It will buy you time,” Tunis said.

He said the whiteboard offered the same protection as a bulletproof vest.

“Teachers right now are more or less naked,” he said. “We want to give them a means of defense.”

Tunis said the whiteboards were in several Wicomico County schools but were not in any of Worcester County’s public schools in spite of the fact that he’d offered to donate $20,000-worth of them in 2013.

“We offered to donate enough whiteboards to cover Pocomoke High School,” he said. “Pocomoke High School is literally in our backyard.”

When school system officials told him they didn’t want to give the devices to just one school, Tunis’ offer to spread the donated boards among county schools was also turned down.

“That offer was not accepted,” Tunis said, “which is kind of a shame.”

According to Carrie Sterrs, the school system’s coordinator of public relations and special programs, the donation wasn’t accepted because it wouldn’t have enabled the school system to provide every teacher with a whiteboard.

“We didn’t have enough for every classroom,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to pick and choose. It would have to be all or nothing.”

Nevertheless, she said school system officials appreciated the company’s generosity and were pleased that local teachers would have the ability to participate in this fall’s contest.

For more information on Hardwire’s back to school contest, visit www.hardwirellc.com.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.