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.”

Energy For Teachers

002 Magazine

Fund For Teachers and its founder Raymond Plank invited guests to a recognition dinner in honor of Energy For Teachers at the Legends Ballroom in the Intercontinental Hotel. Fund For Teachers is a unique public foundation whose mission is to enrich the lives of school teachers and students by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunity for renewal. Guests enjoyed live entertainment by Mid-Life Crisis and the Hot Flashes and guest speaker Robert Fulghun, author of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

Jones Selects Model Teachers

NEW YORK – Jones Apparel Group is out to make teachers look and feel their best.

Through the Jones New York in the Classroom program, a nonprofit organization supporting teachers and children’s education, the company turned up at Macy’s at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., on Saturday to give makeovers and a runway presentation for seven deserving teachers in the area. Jones’ nonprofit beneficiaries – New Teacher Academy, Fund for Teachers, Adopt-a-Classroom and TeachersCount – reached out to schools to offer teachers the chance to participate in the show.

The seven women chosen were Dorotea Binetti, a sixth-grade teacher at Essex Fells Public School in Essex Fells, N.J.; Josette D’Ambrosi, a physical education teacher at M.S. 447 the Upper Carroll School in Brooklyn; Theresa D’Ambrosi, a science teacher at P.S. 10 in Brooklyn; Erin Lubick, a science and technology teacher at P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep in Manhattan; Dory McMahon, a 12th-grade teacher at South Orange/Maplewood School District in Maplewood, N.J.; Karen Young, a pre-kindergarten teacher at P.S. 16 Cornelia F. Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J., and Jessica Zampetti, a teacher of gifted and talented students at Roy Bixby School in Bogota, N.J.

More than 100 shoppers stopped to check out the teachers decked out in the latest fashions from the Jones New York collection. The show kicked off Shop for Education Week, which runs through Oct. 22, when 10 percent of the selling price (up to a maximum of $500,000) of apparel sold from the Jones New York clothing lines – Collection, Signature, Dress, Suit and Outerwear – will be donated to Jones New York in the Classroom.

“Teachers are superstars in the classroom every day, and we made them supermodels to celebrate all that they give to our children,” said Stacy Lastrina, senior vice president of creative services at Jones Apparel Group.

The Jones New York in the Classroom program aims to improve the quality of education and inspires others to do the same. The organization supports efforts to celebrate teachers since the company believes they are the single most important factor in raising student achievement. Jones New York in the Classroom’s efforts have helped teachers who spend their own money to outfit their classrooms (a teacher currently spends an average of $1,200 a year of her own money), offer support for new teachers entering the field, and provide emotional and practical support for teachers and schools nationwide.

Shearn Elementary Gets an Extreme Makeover

When students at HISD’s Shearn Elementary School show up for class on Thursday, September 15, they will see a different school from the one they attended just the day before.

Thanks to a huge contingent of volunteers from a number of Fortune 500 companies, within just 24 hours the school will appear squeaky-clean and next-to-new, with weed-free flower beds, freshly painted walls and curbs, and power-washed windows throughout the entire building.

The volunteers who performed these tasks (while the students attended class in a set of on-site temporary buildings) came from companies like Home Depot, Schlumberger, Starwood Hotels, and Transocean as part of the Corporate Month of Service program started by the Hands On Network. Its goal is to increase the number of employees who volunteer by 10 percent each year and encourage them to collectively contribute more than half-a-million hours nationwide during a month-long period.

The “extreme makeover” of Shearn Elementary School was one of more than 2,000 service projects slated for completion around the country in September.

“It is wonderful when people from the community come in to support a school,” said Principal Bill Buck. “The volunteers are doing an excellent job, and we have over 300 of them here doing landscaping, painting, and various other jobs around the campus. We are thrilled.”

Other partners who made the rejuvenation of Shearn Elementary School possible are: Volunteer Houston, Jones NY, the Fund for Teachers, Dillards, and UBS.

Spruced-Up School

Jason Spencer
Houston Chronicle

The scents of progress – hot asphalt, wet paint and fresh mulch – wafted throughout southwest Houston’s Shearn Elementary School on Wednesday as an 8-hour makeover undid years of neglect.

Nearly 400 volunteers, mostly Home Depot employees, converged on the Houston Independent School District campus toting power washers, paint rollers, shovels and truckloads of equipment to spruce up the grounds. That’s roughly one volunteer for every student at the Stella Link school where almost every child qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches.

It’s good to get out for a change and do some volunteering,” said Sarah Lockett, who handles purchase orders for paint and flooring materials at the Home Depot at Beltway 8 and Bellaire Boulevard. She spent much of the day pouring concrete slabs for three picnic benches in the Shearn courtyard.

HISD officials chose Shearn for the project because the school hasn’t received a significant renovation in several years.

When the workers finished, the children had a freshly resurfaced basketball court, new carpet, bookcases, landscaping and a baseball diamond. The teachers weren’t left out either. They got a refurbished lounge and new outfits from Jones New York. Every classroom now has a fresh coat of paint and new bulletin boards as part of the $50,000 effort.

“I’ve been teaching 23 years with HISD, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said teacher Beth Boggs. “We’re a smaller school, so we don’t get a lot of the perks.”

Other companies also pitched in for the makeover project coordinated by Volunteer Houston, a nonprofit group that links volunteers to the places that need them.

  • National Oilwell bought $5,000 worth of new library books.
  • Transocean spent $5,000 on building repairs.
  • Apache Corp. paid for a new baseball diamond and equipment, as well as landscaping.
  • UBS Investment Bank fixed up the basketball court.
  • Schlumberger fed all the workers. More than 100 volunteers from those companies also did the grunt work.

“It’s very hot out here, but it’s fun to do,” UBS employee Sandra Gonzalez said as she steadied a ladder beneath a basketball goal while colleague Sonya Rodriguez painted the backboard.

Inside the cafeteria, workers stood on scaffolding to paint the high walls, while others toiled in a corner near the food service line where they assembled bookshelves.

Fifth-grader Angel Martinez was among dozens of students using hammers and nails to build birdhouses, CD racks and shelves to take home.

“I’m building a shelf,” Angel said. “I’m going to hang it in my room to hang my trophies there.”

Fund for Teachers to hold sessions on obtaining grants

The Fund for Teachers will hold three informational sessions to help teachers learn about applying for the organization’s professional development grants.

The Fund for Teachers partners with the Tulsa Community Foundation to provide direct grants to teachers for summer professional development opportunities of their own design. Last year, more than 80 area teachers received grants.

Fund for Teachers grants are open to all Oklahoma teachers who have at least three years’ teaching experience, are full-time school employees and spend at least 50 percent of their time in a classroom setting.

Grant applications are available online at www.fundforteachers.org and must be postmarked no later than 12 a.m. Jan. 21.

Teachers can learn more about applying for the grants at the following sessions:

4-5 p.m. Nov 30, Redskin Room, Union Multipurpose Activity Center, 6836 S. Mingo Road.

4-5 p.m. Dec. 1, cafetorium, Fulton Teaching and Learning Academy, 8906 E. 34th St.

4-5p.m. Dec. 7, Broken Arrow Public Schools Central Learning Center, 210 N. Main St., Broken Arrow.

For more information, call (800) 681-2667

Private Education

Local philanthropy should enrich the public schools, but winds up having to provide basic support.

The Houston Chronicle

Texans are generous with their money and time, and education is a prime beneficiary. In a state with an adequate and equitable system of financing the public schools, philanthropy would enrich the learning of Texas children. As it is, private corporations and foundations are struggling just to keep the wheels from coming off the school bus.

According to the National Center for Education Information, 40 percent of the nation’s teachers plan to leave the profession in the next five years, almost twice the rate for 1990-1995. Retirement will account for the bulk of the departures from a teacher corps that has aged considerably. But many teachers will leave because they can’t make a living or burn out. Every time a teacher leaves, it costs some school district an estimated $11,500 to recruit, hire and develop a replacement.

The Texas Legislature’s response to these conditions has been a failure to give teachers a raise and the refusal to provide public schools adequate funding. Fortunately, private charities have been more constructive.

The Houston-based Fund for Teachers gives direct grants to teachers for summer sabbaticals of their own design. The grants have sent teachers abroad to sharpen language skills and experience cultural immersion. They have underwritten research to find better ways to teach children with learning disabilities.

The result: retention of experienced and talented teachers; improved classroom teaching; and more student excitement for learning.

H-E-B, the grocery company, supports education across Texas. In the Houston area, the company, its corporate partners and its customers have raised more than $1 million to pay for school supplies for needy children. The need is so great, the National Education Associate reports, that modestly paid teachers spend an average $1,200 of their own money on classroom supplies.

Every year, H-E-B also provides 50 teachers, principals and school districts with grants ranging up to $100,000 in recognition of excellence.

These are but two of the many organizations providing support for Houston-area public schools. Think of how much good they could do if Texas politicians had the decency to provide the basics.

Houston pours energy into Fund for Teachers Challenge for Teacher Support

Steve Farris left, and Leticia and Steve Trauber spearheaded the Energy for Teachers campaign that raised $3 million for the Fund for Teachers.

On a recent evening, as the price of crude oil ratcheted toward the milestone $50 mark, a loosely bound group of energy executives celebrated a $3 million windfall they had amassed on behalf of the Fund for Teachers.

In less than eight months from the Energy for Teachers campaign’s inauguration, the $3 million goal was met. Three cheers for Energy for Teachers chairs Leticia and Steve Trauber, global head of the Energy Investment Banking Group at UBS Investment Bank, and Steve Farris, Apache Corp. president and CEO.

“This was a great collaboration with the entire business community,” Trauber said.

“I think the city is back…And I think, obviously, within the energy sector, high commodity prices are making everybody feel good.”

It was this celebratory thank-you that found more than 300 energy execs and spouses and educators, who had benefited from the Fund for Teachers, sitting down to dinner recently in the InterContinental Houston ballroom.

“This energy business,” special guest Mayor Bill White said, “has a lot of people with big hearts and open wallets.”

The $3 million Houston campaign is part of a larger $50 million campaign taking place nationwide in cities with Fund for Teachers programs – New York, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver and Tulsa.

In remarks to the gathering, Fund for Teachers founder Raymond Plank, Apache chairman, explained the value of the program that provides direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities of their own design. The funds are used for teacher travel and study during the summer months – providing learning experiences that they bring back to the classroom.

“It’s like baseball and apple pie,” Trauber explained.
“How could you not support it?”

Among those supporting the project were Nabors Industries’ Eugene Isenberg and Tony Petrello, ConocoPhillips’ J.J. Mulva, Anadarko’s Jim Hackett, Halliburton’s John Gibson, Marathon Oil’s Clarence Cazalot and Cooper Cameron’s Sheldon Erikson.

The evening’s program included a talk by Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and dance music by Mid-Life Crisis and the Hot Flashes.

View photos.