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OFE News Release

Three Public School Foundation Programs Recognized for Outstanding Achievement

June 14, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three public school foundation programs have been selected as recipients of the 2007 Outstanding Program Awards for Local Education Foundations sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

The awards, which recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma, will be presented at the Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations on Oct. 23 on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the Century Club Campaign sponsored by the BIXBY Educational Endowment Foundation; the Principal for a Day Program sponsored by the EDMOND Public Schools Foundation and the Academic Quest/Leadership Training Program sponsored by the POTEAU Schools Education Foundation.

Recognized programs may include but are not limited to: mentoring, arts integration, student leadership development, curriculum enhancement, student scholarships, professional development for teachers, public relations and fundraising. Nominations for recognition can be made by any member of a community served by the local education foundation or from anyone knowledgeable about the foundation, including its board members. The program awards are sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Among its many programs, OFE provides free training and resources to new and established local education foundations across the state.

“We wanted to honor these programs for the positive impact they have in promoting academic excellence in their communities,” said Karen Rose, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “In addition, we want to recognize these amazing programs at our Fall Forum so that other public school foundations in Oklahoma can be inspired by their success and perhaps develop similar programs in their own districts.”

The Bixby Educational Endowment Foundation established its Century Club Campaign in 1985 to raise community support for its grants-to-teachers program. The annual letter-writing campaign asks citizens and supporters of the district to donate $100, which will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a challenge contribution. Citizen’s Security Bank of Bixby began supporting the campaign with a generous $10,000 challenge gift in 1985 and has since raised its annual challenge contribution to $15,000. The low-cost, letter-writing campaign is carried out through the efforts of the foundation’s corresponding secretary and through a board-member work session. Proceeds from the campaign go into an endowment fund, with interest from the fund supporting teacher grants for classroom projects and materials. Since the campaign began 22 years ago, the foundation has successfully reached its fundraising goal each year and has awarded more than $250,000 in teacher grants. Jayne Bowen, president of the Bixby foundation, said the Century Club Campaign is successful because of its simplicity, its low cost, and the level of community recognition and support. Because of the foundation’s conservative investment and spending policies, Bowen said, the Bixby foundation has been able to increase its Century Fund endowment from $16,000 in 1985 to over $900,000 in 2007. This fall, the foundation will award $51,000 in teacher grants.

The Edmond Public Schools Foundation launched its innovative Principal for a Day Program in 1991 to promote community awareness of Edmond Public Schools and the work of the foundation. The event is held on the first Tuesday of each October, giving key community and business leaders an opportunity to spend the morning side by side with a local school principal. “During the day, our guest ‘principals’ learn about academic standards and performance, the necessity for more and high quality instructional materials, budgets and much more,” said Karen Filley, director of the foundation. “This hands-on involvement promotes an exchange of ideas and establishes cooperative partnerships with civic leaders and the business community.” After the school visit, guest principals return to the administration building for lunch with the district administrators and foundation board members. During this time, they receive more detailed information about the foundation and how it serves the school district. Filley said Principal-for-a-Day has been a win-win program for the community, the foundation and the school district. “We’ve recruited excellent trustees and have received many new donors – including a $10,000 annual supporter. These people become our ambassadors in the community and among their business associates.”

The Academic Quest/Leadership Training Program, sponsored by the Poteau Schools Education Foundation, is a weeklong day camp designed to develop academic achievement and leadership skills for incoming middle school students. The program was originated by Poteau foundation president Steve Holton in 1998 and developed by Pansy Kidd Middle School principal Lorraine Caldwell and assistant principal Marshall Brence. To be eligible, students must rank in the top 30 percent of their class, provide a written paragraph demonstrating why they should be selected and obtain a teacher recommendation. During the camp, students begin each day with leadership training, followed by elective courses in such subjects as math, Spanish, computer skills, culinary arts and crime scene investigation taught by middle school staff. Students also take field trips and participate in a ropes course. The camp helps students transition to middle school and prepares them to serve as ambassadors for other students, said Holton. “On the first day of school, the Academic Quest students wear special T-shirts and help their sixth-grade classmates find classes and lockers,” he said. “They also help the next spring with fifth-grade orientation. Student and parent response has been very positive.” Caldwell said the program has also helped introduce students to a variety of new classes and leadership opportunities offered in middle school and has contributed to the rise in state mandated test scores each year.

For more information on this year’s Outstanding LEF Program Award winners or the Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations, contact Karen Rose, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach, at (918) 743-5533 or e-mail krose@ofe.org.