The Lake Washington Schools Foundation (LWSF) held its third annual Legacy for Learning Luncheon April 30 at the Juanita High School Field House. Master of ceremonies, KING 5 TV news anchor Dennis Bounds — who’s also a proud Lake Washington School District (LWSD) parent — introduced speakers who shared good news about magic made possible through LWSF grants.
Encouraging guests to “advance a simple and powerful mission … that makes a difference in our community, our country and our world,” was Sammamish City Council member Jack Barry, whose wife, Janet, is a former Issaquah School District superintendent. Their entire family has been involved in the education field.
“Quality public schools are my passion, and the cornerstone of our democracy,” Jack Barry said. Producing scientists, engineers and medical doctors and retaining the brightest teachers is not just a goal for today but a right for future generations.
The foundation was created in 2005 to fund programs and services that aren’t covered by taxpayers or the PTA/PTSA groups. In spite of its perceived affluence, the district receives significantly less funding per pupil than most school districts statewide, foundation and school officials say.
Kim Axelrod, LWSF president, and Tracy Hoien, LWSF executive director, spoke about the importance of supporting new teachers and how a career symposium arranged with resources from the foundation helped a flustered high school senior choose an employment path.
With excitement, Hoien noted that “This year, we have more than doubled the number of businesses sponsoring the foundation.” Officials are especially thrilled with the fact that many businesses came forward with unsolicited donations.
Superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball talked about “making differences in the lives of children or an opportunity to change the life of a single child” through enrichment programs that are separate from the regular curriculum.
A video presentation, “Opening Minds to the Possibilities, Opening Doors to the Future,” highlighted such programs.
Carla Moreno, music specialist at Horace Mann Elementary in Redmond, used money from the LWSF to buy instruments for a world music class. She told the audience “I believe they’re becoming better global citizens,” through exposure to arts and cultures of other nations.
Chris Taylor, a junior at Juanita High School in Kirkland, appealed to the foundation to buy equipment for a drumline. Most of the school’s music budget goes to basic instrument repair, but the new drums have ignited school spirit. Said Taylor, “I want this to go on forever and be a tradition at our school.”
Brian Burdon, a science teacher at Redmond’s Evergreen Junior High, used grant money to purchase telescopes because “abstract concepts (about outer space) don’t make sense.” Many kids had never used a telescope before. Seeing what’s out there in the night sky is believing in the vastness of our universe, he said.
Moreno summed it up: “I love the ‘WOW!’ factor when students come into my class,” eager to learn in a hands-on way.
Another educator, Monica Adair of Kirkland’s A.G. Bell Elementary, said she had 30-31 students in her third class this year, including seven English Language Learners, and that her students’ reading levels ranged from first through sixth grades. With grant money from the LWSF, she bought kid-oriented anthologies of poetry by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Emily Dickinson.
Kathleen Marshall, a second-grade teacher at Juanita Elementary, used LWSF grant money to bring a play about Civil War freedom fighters to her school. Two of her students read aloud how it made them want to treat other people with kindness and compassion.
And Lisa Starr, a sophomore at the Futures School on the Juanita High School campus, told foundation representatives and guests about how she had “lost her way” and found renewed purpose through a forensics class with state-of-the-art materials funded by the LWSF. “Now we’ve been able to replace text books from 1996,” said Starr.
If you didn’t attend the Legacy for Learning Luncheon, you can still contribute to the cause. To learn more, call (425) 702-3414, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lwsf.org.