SALTON CITY, Calif. - A sea of pink greeted West Shores Middle/High School Music Director Don Turley when he showed up at school on Thursday.
"People were wearing these pink shirts, and when I saw them, I said 'I would have worn pink if I'd known,'" said Turley. "Then they turned around and I saw what they said, and my jaw dropped."
The bright pink shirts showed his picture, and read "I love Mr. Turley."
"It breaks your heart, that was pretty darn special," said the teacher at the small school in Salton City. "To me, that's the greatest honor I've ever been given in my 37 years of teaching."
Without Turley knowing, the students and some staff members had made the shirts and sold them for about $15 each in order raise money to help Turley buy instruments for the school's music program. They surprised him by wearing the shirts to school and to a rally before a football game.
"I can't fathom the fact that so many kids that I don't even know, bought shirts. That's a lot of money for them. I know they were very proud of them, and for keeping the secret from me."
"This is not a rich community," said parent Justine Bristow, "yet the students came together and organized these shirts and the rally and even sold the shirts to raise money for the Music department-all without Mr.Turley finding out!
"They appreciate all I've done for the school's music program," Turley explained. He says since starting at the school last fall, he's tried to give the students a good experience in music, and provide a fun environment. "My goal is to get everyone playing an instrument at the school."
Turley says he had semi-retired from teaching in Idaho, but noticed an opening advertised for a music director for the last two years at West Shores Middle/High School.
"I decided to come out of retirement to take these kids on, and I'm so glad I did," said Turley. "I have the best job in the valley. I love these kids, I love the staff there. I've never felt that way on any campus I've been on. Just a close knit community."
Turley said anyone interested in making donations to West Shore's band and music program for instruments, uniforms, or help with travel expenses for competitions can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org