Spearfish Foundation for Public Education Celebrates 20 Years of Supporting Innovation | Local News
SPEARFISH – Since its inception two decades ago, the Spearfish Foundation for Public Education (SFPE) has awarded approximately $ 850,000 to teachers in the Spearfish School District as part of its mission to support great schools.
“Since its inception in 2001, SFPE has worked with an ever-growing network of community supporters to invest in the success of the children of Spearfish,” said Mary Pochop, Board Chair. “Our foundation is committed to supporting the grandes écoles. Each year, the SFPE and its supporters invest time, money and energy, all with the goal of strengthening our community’s schools, its students and its future. We continue to work closely with the Spearfish School District, even though we are a separate entity, and together our partnership enables community members to invest in the success of all Spearfish classrooms, programs and activities. Schools. . “
The SFPE was created in 2001 by a group of concerned citizens in response to the budgetary constraints of the school district. Its Kindergarten to Grade 12 Teacher Grants support educational programs that provide meaningful learning and innovation in the classroom, or meet specific student needs. Each semester, teachers can apply for grants through the foundation and, if awarded, receive funding so that programming can take place in their classrooms. The foundation also organizes events to support teachers and staff, such as the annual back-to-school picnic.
Kathy Wolff, a seventh-grade English and language arts teacher, said it would be nearly impossible to summarize the extent of the foundation’s impact on teachers and students at Spearfish.
“I would be hard pressed to find a student or teacher whose class did not receive funding for special and unique projects from this amazing group,” she said. “Their determination to expand learning opportunities at Spearfish is remarkable and the community support is unparalleled in most cities. I don’t think we can ever express how much the foundation is valued in our schools.
Liz Manning has served on the foundation’s board of directors since 2003, served as president from 2007 to 2018 and continues to be an ex-officio member of the board. She explained that while the board is involved in researching, organizing, funding, and often creating creative momentum for programs and projects, classroom teachers are the foundation of what the foundation does.
“They identify the need, then create a plan to meet the need, detail by detail,” she said. “One of the goals of PETS is to be an integral part of our school system, to be there when they need us, and to be a positive force there.
Manning explained that the foundation seeks to identify and reward innovative classroom programs through FISH (Fostering Innovation in the School House) grants, which have supported programs in math, science, cultural diversity, problem solving, public service. , arts, music, intergenerational communication. , and more. In addition, SFPE sponsors several long-running successful programs emphasizing academic excellence through Signature Grants, which have supported elementary science camps, college science fairs, government crash courses, cultural and scientific excursions, etc.
Pochop joined the board in 2011 and described how everything – from events the foundation organizes or sponsors to grants it funds – has nearly tripled in size over the past decade.
“Yet our mission remains the same: to promote financial and community investment in university programs in the Spearfish School District,” she said.
Pochop explained how the steady increase in the number of teachers applying for FISH grants every semester, especially after going through COVID, shows the dedication and foresight of teachers and administrators to provide a higher level of education for students, and annual Signature Grants continue to provide stability for world-class programs. Without SFPE funding, many of these programs would not exist, such as ASAP (After School Assistance Program) and Spartan Splendors Enrichment Learning.
Pochop added that in 2020, the foundation has taken a new step by creating an investment account for a future endowment, which will provide funding for generations to come.
“Over the past 20 years, PETS has grown in stature and support in our community and is recognized as a successful addition to the education system,” Manning said. “We are proud of these accomplishments and are committed to continuing to invest in excellence. “
Jessica Zwaschka, chemistry teacher and chair of the science department at Spearfish High School / District, has worked for the district since 1997 and has received support from SFPE for its annual summer science camp designed for students in grades 1 through sixth grade, which allows students to do hands-on science activities. “The foundation’s support has had so many positive impacts in the district,” she said, describing that in addition to cash assistance, the SFPE also provides promotional support. “I truly appreciate their commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and their tireless efforts to raise funds for our students’ academic enrichment programs. It is through the united efforts of our teachers, our district and the foundation that we are able to provide stimulating and successful programs to our students.
Nadene Harr, who worked for the school district for 32 years (28 years as a first grade teacher and now as a Title 1 reading teacher), has writing experience and received various grants through the SFPE, including after-school assistance programs. , Read around town and pound bags of fish. She described the SFPE as going “above and beyond” in supporting valuable educational experiences.
“Our community’s support to invest in our students, teachers and schools has created such an incredible partnership that allows us to invest in everyone’s success through funding that might not be available without such support,” she declared. “Our schools are very fortunate to have such an amazing, caring and generous community. “
Kirk Easton, Superintendent of the Spearfish School District, expressed his gratitude to the foundation.
“Over the past 20 years, the SFPE has provided additional funding that has enabled additional programming in our schools,” he said. “The foundation has been a key community partner who has made it possible for Spearfish schools or individual classes to deliver a project or activity that has had a positive impact on children’s education. They have all my gratitude.
Manning encouraged everyone to invest in maintaining great schools in Spearfish.
“The great schools are a foundation: a foundation for better jobs, for bigger dreams and for a better future – for our children and our community,” she said. “Help us build on the foundations of great schools by investing in the success of Spearfish schools. “
The foundation is gearing up for its annual “3 Cheers Celebration,” which will move to a new location in January, as it was too big for the previous space.
“It’s a great night to cheer on our teachers, our students and our community. We have student performance groups, student scholarship demonstrations, such as robotics, and even student animators for the evening event, ”said Pochop. “We are all looking forward to a fun night to celebrate our public schools. “
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