After months of hard work and preparation, East High teachers Jostna Dash and Jenna Headrick stood in front of a sold out Gem Theater on Monday night and presented their ideas to a panel of celebrity judges.

At a Shark Tank-style event hosted by Teach for America Kansas City, teachers from various school districts were given the chance to pitch their academic innovations to a panel of judges that included World Series MVP Salvador Perez and Roasterie Coffee Founder Danny O’Neill. To the delight of East students and faculty, the judges awarded Ms. Dash and Ms. Headrick a combined $9,000 to fund their dream projects.

The biggest highlight of the night for Dash wasn’t meeting an All-star athlete or nailing the presentation—it was getting to see her 10th grade English class afterward.

“The best part was that my students were there. The highlight of my night was taking a picture with them at the end.” Dash said.Going the extra mile for students is a sentiment shared by both teachers. After leaving the stage, Headrick, who teaches young refugees in her New American Class, said her students are her inspiration.

“They have been through so much and come to class with smiles on their faces every day. Headrick said. “They deserve more than what I can give them in the classroom.”

The desire to fuel their student’s success is something that comes naturally to both teachers. Dash and Headrick believe that in order to elevate academic learning, their students must have meaningful experiences outside of school.

Both teachers will use their earnings to provide students with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Dash is planning to take her entire class to Washington D.C. and Headrick has planned several trips throughout the Kansas City area for her new American students.

Both teachers said they were nervous leading up to the event on Monday night.

“We were both a little anxious” Dash said.

Once on stage however, they were overcome by the support of their students in the crowd.

“The support from our students and KCPS was amazing. It was just overwhelming.” Headrick said.

East High School Principal, Jeff Spaletta, was also there to cheer on his teachers and expressed his admiration for their “outstanding” performance. The support from East students and faculty proves that the efforts of Ms. Dash and Ms. Headrick will have long lasting effects.

Learn more about East High School by visiting kcpublicschools.org/East.