Purple Hair Challenge: Jason Lee science teacher goes purple to raise money

Jason Lee Middle School science teacher Kathy Hall takes her commitment to the environment very seriously. When her students set out to raise money to fund a solar panel project for their school, Hall issued a challenge: Raise $3,000 and she’d dye her hair purple. Bet you can guess what happened next! Before the week was out, they raised more than $4,000.

The story started in 2019, when three eighth graders at Jason Lee started the Watts Up project to help fund solar panels for their school.

With the help of donations to the Jason Lee PTA and grants from Evergreen Options Program through Tacoma Public Utilities, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Pierce Conservation District’s Green Partnership Program and TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Board, the total raised is $240,000.

Tacoma Public Schools will fund the $120,000 difference through a combination of capital bond dollars and additional donations and anticipates installing a solar array on the school’s roof this summer. The school will save over $5,000 per year in energy costs with the new solar panels.

“We're very excited about getting the first solar array on one of our schools,” Hall said. “It will not only save energy but provide a living laboratory for renewable energy for all TPS students.”

Hall is passionate about climate change and energy conservation. She was recently awarded the 2021 Patsy Collins Award for Education Excellence, which honors extraordinary teachers in Washington K-12 schools who are creating equitable, project-based learning experiences that inspire stewardship and environmental awareness. Patsy Collins Award - IslandWood.

Jason Lee’s solar panel project will be the first solar installation in the school district.

Jason Lee before purple hair
JasonLee purple hair

If you’d like to learn more about the Watts Up project, visit their website at http://jasonleeptatacoma.monkeyhousestudios.com/wattsup/

TPS Media Contact

Kathryn McCarthy, Strategic Communications and Marketing Manager | 253-571-1015 | kmccart@tacoma.k12.wa.us

About Tacoma Schools

Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...


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