Richard Dreyfuss Speaks Up for Teachers

Academy Award winner speaks up for teachers in Houston, raises $620,000

Culture Map Houston
by, Shelby Hodge

Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss with honoree Walt Smith and event co-chairs Vicki and Steve Farris.

With an acting career spanning decades, Academy Award-winner Richard Dreyfuss focuses today on education, working through his Dreyfuss Initiative to put civics education back in classrooms across the country. That was the focus of his straightforward talk at the Fund For Teachers dinner at Hotel ZaZa.
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Fellow Moves Audience at Annual Fundraiser

Fund for Teachers annual fundraiser, Food for Thought, was a huge success thanks in great part to the moving speech given by Houston Fellow, Patricia Greenleaf. Watch as Patricia shares her fellowship’s impact on her teaching and the many at-risk students she serves.

Photos: Food for Thought Luncheon 2010

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Photos: Food for Thought Luncheon 2009

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Evening In The Orchard Gala Photos

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Health & Fitness magazine Fitness Enthusiast participates in Fund Run

Clair Maciel

Running in February’s 5K Fund Run for Teachers has become an annual tradition for Christa Blyth. But she doesn’t do it solely for the purpose of staying fit. She runs as a representative of the many Houston teachers who have benefited from this local event and to give back to an organization that provided her with the experience of a lifetime.

In the summer of 2006, Blyth, a teacher in the Spring Branch ISD, received a grant from Fund for Teachers (, a non-profit organization that raises money through the Fund Run and awards grants to teachers to support their professional growth and learning. With her grant, Blyth had the opportunity to travel to Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, a trip she said inspired her as a teacher and enabled her to share her amazing experience with her students.

“Teachers don’t necessarily have a lot of opportunities to explore the world, but this organization really gives teachers the chance to experience new cultures,” Blyth said. “It’s a great, great cause, and as a past recipient of the grant, I wanted to support the group by running this year.”

Blyth, 29, has her plate full as a mother of two, a 5-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, a day job as an eighth grade history teacher at Northbrook Middle School, and all the responsibilities of a graduate student pursuing a degree in administration to eventually become a school principal. And to maintain the energy to keep up with juggling all of her roles, she makes regular exercise a priority whenever she can fit it into her schedule.

“It’s important for me to exercise because I want to have a lot of energy during the day. I’m so busy that I have to exercise in order to keep up with my crazy schedule. I also do it because I enjoy having the time to myself.”

A native of Lafayette, La., Blyth admits she rarely took the time to exercise on a regular basis before she moved to Texas a few years ago.

“I wasn’t really into sports before. I didn’t start becoming athletic until I moved to Houston about three years ago. That’s when I decided I wanted to get in shape and start exercising regularly.”

These days, she makes it a point to squeeze in a run at least two or three times a week, whether it’s on a treadmill or at the local park. And if she’s not running, she and her sister will occasionally hit the bike trails and go for a ride together.

Not only does Blyth bike and run for exercise or to support a good cause, she also participates in running events simply for the fun of it. “I’ve also done the Women’s Race in Austin for the past two years. It’s so much fun because it’s a two-woman team event where you partner up with someone and compete against other teams in running, walking, some mind games and a water activity. We have so much fun doing that.”

Of course, Blyth is not the only one in the family who has taken up the athletic lifestyle. It seems her two children are following closely in her footsteps. Her son has started playing T-ball, her daughter is active in dance and both enjoy riding bikes.

It’s that kind of activity Blyth said she tries to encourage in her children, not only because it’s healthy, but also because she sees the importance of staying fit even at a young age.

“I definitely promote a healthy lifestyle with my kids. I’m very conscientious of their health and what they eat. I’d much rather have them playing outside and running around than sitting inside in front of the TV.”

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Katy Resident Participates in Third Annual Fund for Teachers “Fund Run”

Katy Texas News

Pictured Left to Right: Katy Resident Cynthia Ramos takes in the fun and festivities at the “Fund Run” – Runners at the third annual “Fund Run” prepare to begin the race – Karen Kovach-Webb (center), executive director of FFT congratulates Jennifer Brown and Jose Lara on their male and female first place finishes.

On February 9, approximately 1,000 runners, volunteers and spectators took part in the “Fund Run” by raising money to benefit Houston-area teachers. One of the runners was Katy Resident, Cynthia Ramos, who teaches at Jackson Middle School. Ramos used her Fund for Teachers (FFT) grant in 2006 to travel to Budapest, Hungary where she researched Hungarian folk tales and new perspectives in literacy techniques to bring back to her students.

FFT is a Houston-based non-profit whose mission is to enrich the lives of school teachers and students throughout the U.S. by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunities to pursue independent studies over the summer. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has provided $8.5 million in grants to 2,609 teachers in 47 states and Puerto Rico. In Houston, FFT has awarded grants totaling $1.8 million to more than 500 teachers.

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Landrum teacher to take part in Fund Run

Kim Morgan, Chronicle Correspondent

Memorial resident Dianna Gunn – who has run over hot rocks and away from molten lava during her world travels – will be among those who take part in Fund for Teachers’ third annual Fund Run on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Gunn, 36, a science teacher at Landrum Middle School, 2200 Ridgecrest Drive, spent two weeks studying active volcanoes in Europe, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Fund for Teachers.

“I’m not a runner, never have been, but I’m training as much as I can for that little 5K race,” Gunn said.

“I have about 15 of my friends signing up, too, because I want as many teachers as possible to have a wonderful opportunity like I did.”

Fund for Teachers is an organization that provides grants for teachers who wish to “pursue opportunities around the globe that will have the greatest impact on their practice, the academic lives of their students and on their school communities.”

Gunn, who teaches seventh grade, visited volcanoes in Italy, including Mt. Etna, Vesuvius, Pompeii and Stromboli.

“Stromboli is one of the most active, if not the most active, volcanoes in the world,” Gunn said.

“It’s been erupting for thousands of years, gentle eruptions that throw out blobs of lava that look like fireworks every 15 minutes.

“But it varies, and when I was there I saw ash explosions, not lava. I was kind of disappointed but it’s also very dangerous.”

Gunn said the last time Stromboli activity waned, so much pressure built up that when it did erupt in December 2003 it blew out a side of the crater, which then slid down into the water, resulting in an 18-foot tsunami.

In fulfilling the fund’s mission, Gunn came back to Houston and created a unit for her students so they could experience what she did.

“We don’t have volcanoes in Houston, thank goodness, and they might never get a chance to see one,” Gunn said.

“I dressed every day exactly how I was dressed in the photos I was showing them.

“We had a lab where they got to go through stations, looking at samples of rock and sand I brought back.”

Karen Kovach-Webb, executive director of Fund for Teachers, said that’s why teachers like Gunn are a perfect fit for the grants.

Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has provided more than $8.5 million in grants to 2,609 teachers across the United States.

In Houston, grants totaling $1.8 million have been awarded to more than 500 teachers.

The fund is supported by foundations, individuals and corporate donors.

Kovach-Webb said the Fund Run, while expected to bring out more than 1,000 participants and raise approximately $65,000, is more of an awareness campaign than a fundraiser.

“It gives our corporate supporters an opportunity for their employees to come out with their families and meet some of our teachers,” Kovach-Webb said.

“Last year in Houston we awarded 101 grants worth $375,000.”

That number will likely go up, because this year they are increasing team grant amounts from $7,500 to $10,000, she said.

“We upped it because it’s really interesting to see the teachers’ quality of work when they collaborate on their project, and then collaborate back in the classroom,” Kovach-Webb said.

Individual grants such as the one Gunn received will remain at $5,000.