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Red Wing teacher says goodbye to his career with a daily auction of neckties

He has enough neckties, he said, to wear a different one each day of the semester, meaning each tie gets worn around twice a year.

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Scott Bender is auctioning off some of his neckties in the days leading up to his retirement as a social studies teacher at Red Wing High School. One of his students, Kayden Tucker, purchased the first tie that went up for sale.
Contributed photo / Red Wing Public Schools
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RED WING — Recently, social studies teacher Scott Bender has been taking off his tie at the end of the day and leaving it at school rather than taking it home like he normally would. That way, it can be picked up by whoever was fortunate enough to win the day’s round of online bidding.

One by one, Bender’s collection of neckties has been getting a little smaller.

That’s because, after more than 25 years as a teacher, he’s getting ready to retire at the end of the school year. And as part of his final year, he’s auctioning off his collection of ties.

“One of the other teachers asked ‘So, what are you going to do with your ties when you retire?’” Bender said. “I was just kind of being a wise guy and said, ‘Oh I don’t know. Maybe I’ll auction them off.’ And the other teacher said ‘That’s a great idea!’”

And thus the idea was born. They set up an online auction under the heading “Goodbye to the Ties,” and the bidding began.

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He’s splitting the money from the auction between two scholarships. One is in memory of Sammi Kriese, a student who died in a car accident just days after graduating from high school last year. The other scholarship is in memory of Jana Langhan, a student who died just before the start of school this year.

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He didn’t set out with a goal about how much to raise. But, a handful of his ties have been going for a premium so far. More than one has gone for $70. Others have gone for as much as $50 and $60.

His collection is large, having grown to around 70 ties over the years. He has enough, he said, to wear a different one each day of the semester, meaning each tie gets worn around twice a year.

They’ve been auctioning one tie a day. Based on the fact that they started the auction in late April, Bender should have a decent number left over for himself.

So what’s on his many ties anyway? A better question may be, what isn’t on his ties?

He has one of the Green Bay Packers and another with Charlie Brown. One depicts a bowling ball flying down the lane. Flowers, musical instruments, you name it. The first tie he auctioned had an image of the $100 bill on it.
He’s found some at flea markets. Some were gifts. He became a little choked up, he said, when he auctioned off a tie he bought in Washington D.C., depicting the U.S. Capitol building. Another he got at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, Calif.

In other words, when you’ve been a teacher for several decades, they begin to pile up from any number of places.

Looking back, though, they all have the same origin story.

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“Back in college, I had a psychology professor who always wore a suit to work. And he wrote all over the chalkboard and his suit would get all full of chalk. But he always wore a tie and he emphasized that if you want to be treated as a professional, you dress like a professional,” Bender said. “That always stuck with me.”

Related Topics: EDUCATIONRED WING-WELCH
Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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