What Bennett Elementary School principal Amy Holderman did recently to inspire her students is the stuff of which legends are made — and proof that she is not only fearless, but something of a motivational genius as well.

It started three weeks ago when Holderman realized that, with only one day left to secure pledges for the school’s Boosterthon Fun Run, her students were still 20 percent short of the goal. For Holderman, failure was not an option. But, how do you motivate elementary school children to raise thousands of dollars in a span of 24 hours?

In a moment of poignant clarity, Holderman knew what she had to do. She made a promise to her students — and accepted the course that lay before her.

She would eat a cricket. If her students came through, she would stand before them. And, eat a live cricket.

Twenty-four hours later, they had done it. More than done it, as a matter of fact. Overnight, the students of Bennett Elementary School raised $8,000 dollars in pledges and surpassed their original goal. The PTO campaign to purchase instructional materials and playground equipment had gone from near miss to overwhelming success.


Fast forward a few weeks, and the time had come for Amy Holderman to make good on her promise.

It was time to eat the cricket.

Standing before the entire student body of Bennett Elementary at their Friday Live assembly on March 22, Holderman laughed nervously as assistant principal Kari Burkhardt withdrew a wriggling, kicking cricket from a plastic container.

“Eat the cricket! Eat the cricket! Eat the cricket...” The chant welled up from among the students, a cry of childlike glee that became a deafening shriek of approval as Burkhardt shoved the cricket into Holderman’s mouth.

The roar immediately fell to hushed silence as Holderman’s hand flew to her mouth, and every student, parent and staff member waited to see if their principal could complete the task. Suddenly, Holderman thrust her arms triumphantly into the air, and the Bennett gymnasium erupted in cheers once again.

Of his principal’s motivational tool, 4th grader K.J. Giller said, “Let me put it this way, if I can put it on a scale from 1 – 10, I’d put it on 100!”

With a water bottle in hand, Holderman gathered herself, picked up a microphone and praised her students for their commitment and hard work.

“In one night, you guys raised $8,000 for our school,” she said. “So if someone wants to say, ‘Ms. Holderman, how much would it cost to eat a cricket?’ It would be $8,000. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

No, thank you, Amy Holderman. For your fearless, fun, motivational genius.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Specialist, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

Click to last page to see more pictures.



Before the "main event," Principal Amy Holderman and Assistant Principal Kari Burkhardt donned crazy costumes and allowed some students to douse them with ketchup and mustard. From top left, Burkhardt presents the cricket to an expectant audience. She then proceeds to put the cricket in Holderman's mouth. She then swallows it. At bottom right, Burkhardt appears shocked she actually did it.


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,000 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, one alternative school and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.