Fund for Teachers Grows

Among donors and hosts, generosity reigns at garden party

Shelby Hodge
Houston Chronicle

Cynthia and Tony Petrello stepped up to the plate in a major way with the Fund for Teachers garden party Friday night.

They opened the lush gardens of their elegant Remington Lane home to a crowd of 300 for a buffet dinner and later dancing to the sounds of Chaka Khan.

Of course, they had good reason. Their close friend Gene Isenberg, Nabors Industries chairman and CEO, was honoree. Tony serves as president and COO of the drilling company. All that and their interest in education prompted the generous Petrellos to completely underwrite the evening.

he dapper Isenberg and his wife, Ronnie, moved through the crowd greeting such important players as Raymond Plank, Fund for Teachers founder and Apache Corp. chairman.

The crucial question for the party hosts and planner Richard Flowers on this weather-filled weekend was tents or no tents. In the end, they took the safe route, erecting a vast tent for the buffet dinner and program and a separate party tent decorated like a swank nightclub for dessert and dancing.

The evening served as the culmination of the Fund for Teachers’ annual spring fundraising push, an effort that brought in $1.8 million. In the crowd were Anne Mendelsohn, Jill and Jeff Collins, Mary Lou and Walt Smith, Susie and Bob Peebler, Leticia and Steve Trauber and Linda and Jeff Stephens.

View photos.

Event recognizing companies supporting FFT

YAHOO! News

Rupert Murdoch (L), CEO of News Corporation, Peter Boneparth (C), CEO of Jones Apparel Group and founder of the Jones New York In The Classroom initiative, and Raymond Plank, founder of the Fund for Teachers, pose at an event recognizing the combined donation of $2 million from the above companies to support Fund For Teachers in New York May 8, 2006. The grant will send teachers to study in Asia, bringing back culture, language and a global perspective into the American classroom.

T.J. Callahan of Houston Weekend Magazine talks with Karen Kovah-Webb

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FFT at the Closing Bell

Fund for Teachers kicks off campaign for teachers

Business leaders from around the city have joined forces to participate in the newly formed Houston Leadership Committee raising money for the Fund for Teachers Houston 2005-2006 campaign. Funds raised will be used to permanently endow summer sabbaticals for Houston-area teachers.

FFT grants are awarded to teachers who work with students in grades K-12 and have a minimum of three years teaching experience. Participants are selected based on how their summer fellowship will make the applicant a better teacher, how improved skills and capacity will be implemented in the classroom and how the teachers’ improved skills or capacity will benefit students, curricula and the school.

Founded by Apache Corp. Chairman Raymond Plank, the foundation’s enrichment fund is supported by individual and corporate donors.

National Firm Boosts Local Teachers

An international designer garment corporation is boosting Tulsa’s teachers.

Jones Apparel Group Inc. has launched its first corporate wide cause program-Jones New York in the Classroom.

In Tulsa, the program to aid teachers will be administered by the Tulsa Community Foundation. (TFC).

The nationwide program aims to improve the quality of education for children through recruitment, retention and support of teachers in America’s public schools.

In addition to dollar donations, the JNY is offering human resources via an employee network and a united effort with four other national non-profit organizations.

Tulsa’s Fund for Teachers (FFT) was one of the four beneficiary nonprofits selected to participate in this national campaign.

FFT is a public foundation whose mission is to enrich the lives of schoolteachers and students by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunities for renewal.

In partnership with TCF, FFT provides funds for direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities of their own design

FFT recently recognized its 2005 fellows – 82 teachers from Tulsa – area schools – who received grants, totaling over $214,190 of funds awarded, for the opportunity to travel, attend seminars and workshops, and acquire hands-on materials and information to enrich their students in the classroom.

“The Jones Apparel Group is helping Americans understand how vitally important it is to nurture and invest in teachers, “said Fund for Teachers Executive Director, Karen Kovach-Webb.

The need for teacher is great and retention is important, said Kovach-Webb. Experts predict that two million more new teachers will be needed over the next decade, while recent studies show that approximately one-third of the nation’s teachers leave the profession during the first three years and almost half in the first five years.

“(We want to) take a leadership role in providing immediate and tangible help in the classroom, while encouraging others to join us along the way,” said Peter Boneparth, president and CEO, Jones Apparel Group Inc.

Rather than just “throw money” at the cause, the corporation “is taking multifaceted approach to supporting teachers at critical points in their careers, with a focus on four areas: recruitment, retention, professional development and recognition and support,” he said.

Group Raising Funds For Teachers

Houston Chronicle

The newly formed Houston Leadership Committee has begun its 2005-2006 fundraising campaign for the Fund for Teachers, a program that offers summer sabbaticals and grants to Houston-area teachers.

Edgewood pupil wins ‘Fund Run’ poster contest

Winning design to be used for promotional materials

Kimberly Blair, Chronicle Correspondent

Hundreds of students from around Houston competed to design the posters and promotional materials for the First Annual Fund for Teachers “Fund Run” — but one Edgewood Elementary School pupil won the contest.

Eliza Quintana, a fourth-grader at the Spring Branch school district school, was presented with a certificate of achievement and a $50 gift card to Old Navy for her effort.

Quintana said she plans to use the money “to buy clothes for my family as a gift for their support.”

The First Annual Fund for Teachers Fund Run, scheduled for Jan. 21 at Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby, is a fundraiser for the organization, said Karen Kovach-Webb, executive director of Fund for Teachers.

The Memorial-based organization awards grants to teachers for self-designed summer development opportunities.

Quintana’s winning design “stood out from all the others because of her use of color and creativity,” Kovach-Webb said.

“She also used emotion in her design that truly brought her drawing to life; we thought it was a perfect fit.”

Quintana said the inspiration for her design — which depicts children running on a track field, trying to get to the finish line — was her school’s track coach.

“I thought about coach making us run the track and thought it would be fun to actually bring myself in this picture,” Quintana said. “I drew myself running across the finish line.”

And when the competition was over, that’s what she’d done.

“I thought I was the luckiest person,” Quintana said of her design being selected. “I felt proud.”