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Germantown School Teacher Dreams Big on Wheel of Fortune

Alexandra Funsch knows that life’s big rewards in life require action. And when she sees an experience or reward that she wants she takes action. Five years ago, Funsch wanted to start a new career as a teacher, so she took action and became a teacher. Last winter, she decided that she wanted to be on Wheel of Fortune, so she took action, and she will appear on the long-running game show on Friday night.

“I want to teach my kids that if there is something that they want to do, regardless of how big or small it may be in their minds, they need to go for it because you never know what can happen,” said Funsch, who has been a third grade teacher at Captain James E. Daly Elementary School in Germantown for four years. “I never in a million years would have thought that I would have been on Wheel of Fortune. It was an amazing experience.”

Past classes have known her as Ms. Funsch, but this year’s class knows her as Mrs. Croyle, as she will be getting married next weekend. But this weekend, she will appear on Wheel of Fortune on Friday night at 7:00 pm on WJLA Channel 7 in Washington, DC.

While the taping happened in July, Funsch is sworn to secrecy about whether she won or not. Even after being asked multiple questions designed to trick her up, She won’t say if she won. “You have to watch on Friday,” she said with a smile.

“I have always loved game shows,” said Funsch, who grew up in Frederick County and is a graduate of Thomas Johnson High School. She and her soon-to-be husband are setting in Clarksburg. “I love playing games; I am competitive. I was watching Wheel of Fortune one day, as I have been doing since I was growing up. It just dawned on me one evening over the winter that I could be on the show. So, I Googled how to be a contestant.” She found the online contestant application and proceeded to fill it out. “There were a couple of questions that applied to me, which was interesting. The application asked if I was a teacher, I am. It also asked if I was engaged to be married, I am. At that point, I was thinking that this is looking pretty good.”

The application also required Funsch to submit a video, “I selfied a video of myself explaining that I am a teacher and that it is a career change me,” she said. Funsch previously worked in sales with the Marriott Hotel Corporation for six years. “I went back to school and got my teaching certificate, and now I am a teacher, and I love it.” After submitting the application and video, Funsch had forgotten all about being on Wheel of Fortune.

Then in May, she received an email from Wheel of Fortune asking her to attend an audition in New York City. “Initially, I was so excited and couldn’t believe it,” she said. “But there was a big problem, I looked at the date for the audition, and it was the second to last day of school. I would be the last Friday the kids would be in school before the final day. My first reaction was that I couldn’t go because I don’t like to take days off from work, and it was the second to last day of school. I couldn’t do that to my kids.”

However, Funsch’s boss had other thoughts. “I thought ‘why not go?’ It was an opportunity that you don’t get very often. I was happy to help her be able to do that and have this experience,” said Nora Dietz, the principal at Daly Elementary School.

Funsch and her finance took the train up to New York, and she auditioned to be on television. It went well. Two weeks later she was invited to fly to Los Angeles to meet Pat and Vanna, and be on the show.

In Mid-July Funsch and her finance flew to Los Angeles for the taping of the show that will air Friday night. Funsch said that they made a mini-vacation out of the trip. They flew out a few days earlier and took in the sights, visited Universal Studios, saw the Hollywood sign. “Regardless of what happened on the show it was an exciting trip,” she said.

She said that she is on the show as part of Teacher Week, which is the first week of the show’s 33rd season on television. The day she taped the show, was the first day the cast and crew were back at work after the hiatus between seasons, said Funsch.

She said that the contestants didn’t get to hang out with too many stars and only got a few moments with Pat Sajak and Vanna White. “While we were in the Green Room, prior to taping, we were filling out paperwork and getting last minute details about the show – all of a sudden Vanna White jumped into the room and to say ‘Hi.’ At first I didn’t recognize her because she was completely dressed down in jeans, a tee-shirt, her hair pulled back and no makeup. It quickly occurred to me that it was her. She was very friendly and Pat was also very friendly. Overall it was a great experience.”

“People keep asking me if I was nervous on the show, but I wasn’t, I was so focused,” said Funsch. When asked if she had a strategy for spinning the Wheel, she said the she didn’t. “Some people believe that you can try to spin the Wheel to try to have it land on a specific big money item, and that if Pat Sajak notices you doing that he will make you spin again. But I don’t know how anyone could have the where-with-all to do that. There are so many things to you are trying to do mentality -- you are multi-tasking to keep an eye on the letter board, to focus on the puzzle, and the cameras -- I don’t know how anyone could try to mess with spinning the wheel.”

While she didn’t have a strategy for playing the game, the competitor in her made sure she practiced on the Wheel of Fortune app on her smartphone. “I played the Wheel of Fortune app religiously every day for at least an hour,” she said.

“I was so thrilled to be able to represent Daly ES as part of Teacher’s Week on Wheel of Fortune. I absolutely love teaching here. Teaching was a career change for me, and I have never looked back. I plan on being here a very long time. I was proud to be a representative of Daly, Germantown, and Maryland in general.”

Caption: Daly Elementary School third grade teacher and Clarksburg resident, Alexandra Funsch, soon to be Alexandra Croyle, on the set of Wheel of Fortune. She appeared on the long running game show as pa