2015 Outstanding Program Award Winners
365 Days of Excellence, Cheyenne Educational Foundation
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Cheyenne Educational Foundation launched the 365 Days of Excellence project to share positive news and trivia about Cheyenne’s students, alumni, school district and community. Starting Jan. 1, 2015, the foundation began posting positive news items each day on the foundation’s Facebook page. Each week’s posts are also published in the local weekly newspaper, the Cheyenne Star, leveraging the impact of the project.
While the population of Cheyenne is only 800, each post reaches between 300 and 1,200 people, according to Facebook tracking statistics, and is circulated to nearly 2,100 readers through the local newspaper. Chad Smith, chairman of the Cheyenne Board of Education, said the board believes the project has improved the visibility of the foundation in the community and among alumni living elsewhere.
“It is prompting a lot of positive talk in town,” he said. “The more involved the school and community are in a positive way, the more support the school receives from the community. The positive talk should also help make the foundation’s 20/20 fundraising campaign planned for later in the year a great success.”
A foundation board member is responsible for writing the daily posts, but receives suggestions from the entire board. Many posts are written in advance using Facebook’s scheduling feature. The foundation board is considering compiling the posts in book form to use for a fundraiser in 2017 when the community hosts the Cheyenne-Arapaho Old Settlers Reunion, a weeklong celebration.
Career Pathway Program, Fort Gibson Public Schools Education Foundation
The second Outstanding Program Award recipient is the Fort Gibson Career Pathway Program, which was spawned by student interest in having a greater connection between curriculum and career opportunities. The Fort Gibson Public Schools Education Foundation, in collaboration with the Board of Education and district and community leaders, convened in 2006 to lay the groundwork for the Career Pathway Program.
The program spans from elementary through high school, beginning with the introduction of basic business concepts in “Our Town.” Facilitated by local business leaders, the program introduces children to business roles and experiences common in the local community. In fifth grade, students travel to Tulsa to experience Biz Town, a program sponsored by Junior Achievement to introduce students to financial literacy and basic business skills. In elementary and middle school, students participate in career interest surveying through the Oklahoma Career Inventory Systems and begin to build a career portfolio.
In the middle school phase of the program, students meet with school counselors and begin selecting a career pathway. The program takes full shape in high school as students prepare Career Graduation Portfolios, which include such elements as a resume, interview training, record of community services and a transcript. In addition, students are encouraged to include copies of their “best work,” especially work that is career-related. With the help of the Fort Gibson Public Schools Education Foundation, curriculum enhancements, such as a high school robotics program and an elementary-level “Making and Tinkering Labs,” have been added.
“The Career Pathway Program has met all our expectations and even more,” said district superintendent Derald Glover, noting increases in ACT scores and scholarship commitments. “The 2014 graduating senior class was the first class to meet every single program requirement. Most importantly, graduating seniors recognized the connection between the classroom and their promising futures.”
Tech 2 Teach, Stillwater Public Education Foundation
The third Outstanding Program Award winner is the Tech 2 Teach Program sponsored by the Stillwater Public Education Foundation. After discussing the district’s greatest needs with school administrators, foundation board members learned that the district needed to increase technology available to both students and teachers.
“Continually shrinking budgets cause school districts to sometimes treat technology as an extra rather than a necessity,” said Jenifer Bartley, foundation executive director. “However, we know how important it is to expose students to technology and how much more effectively teachers can instruct when technology is available to use.”
The Stillwater foundation launched the Tech 2 Teach fundraising campaign to respond. In 2013 and 2014, the foundation allocated $25,000 from its budget and raised an additional $25,000 to provide $50,000 each year for technology needs. The foundation worked with the district’s information technology director, assistant superintendent and curriculum technology support specialists to plan and distribute technology throughout the district.
In the first year the initiative provided 121 document cameras and 12 projectors to all school sites, allowing each teacher to build on a common technology platform. Last year, the campaign provided 157 Chromebooks and charge carts to be divided among the district’s 10 school sites. “Thousands of students will have the opportunity to collaborate on research, projects and develop an electronic classroom on the Chromebooks, which encourage academic excellence,” Bartley said. The foundation plans to collaborate with district administrators each year to choose a different technology project to benefit from Tech 2 Teach.
Glow Golf, Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation
The fourth award winner is the Glow Golf Fall Event sponsored by the Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation. The event is a twist on the traditional golf tournament fundraiser, as teams play nine holes of golf in the dark with the assistance of lighted golf balls, flash lights, black lights and neon lighted flags. The goal of the event is to raise money for teacher grants and to promote the foundation to the community in hopes of recruiting new board members. In 2014, the foundation raised $15,800 from the event, which helped fund more than one-third of its teacher grants.
The foundation invites businesses and individuals to sponsor the Glow Golf event, with five levels of sponsorship ranging from $200 to $2,500. Depending upon the donation level, sponsors will receive recognition on promotional materials, various levels of team registration and dinner, T-shirts and glow golf materials. In 2014, a 48-inch television was donated and awarded via a drawing for individual attendees.
“Through the Glow Golf Fall Event over the past four years, the Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation has been able to fund more than 656 grants totaling well over $100,000, all of which is to support our students’ education,” said Tahlequah Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Presley, who nominated the program. Among projects funded through the teacher grants have been iPads, a digital tablet, robotics materials and choir robes, she said.
“Through events like their Glow Golf Fall Event, the foundation helps the community have a direct influence on the quality of education our students receive by helping teachers realize their dreams,” Presley added.