The Cambrian

Cambria Education Foundation: Enriching education

Cambria Grammar School first grade students (left to right) Zack Stephenson, Julie Garcia and Genevieve Dandurand work together to make cookies during a math lesson using a mobile cooking cart paid for by a grant from the Cambria Education Foundation.
Cambria Grammar School first grade students (left to right) Zack Stephenson, Julie Garcia and Genevieve Dandurand work together to make cookies during a math lesson using a mobile cooking cart paid for by a grant from the Cambria Education Foundation. PHOTO BY GARY STEPHENSON

When Cambria Education Foundation (CEF) directors hand out 17 grants on Friday, May 14, they’ll again be providing a route through which community members can

donate money to help inspire students— and their teachers—at all of Cambria’s public schools.

In doing so, they also come to the aid of the Coast Unified School

District, during lean fiscal times and flush ones.

To qualify for a CEF grant, a teacher must develop a program that goes above and beyond the norm to help students do the same.

For instance, a 2009-2010 grant helped teacher Linda Logan create a special cooking cart for her first graders, but it is available to all students. By following recipes and making foods, the youngsters learn and practice math, science, and even some history along with their home economics—plus they get to eat their studies.

Another program buys supplies so older students can read and record little-kids’ books on CDs. Then younger students who are having language problems can read along as they listen to the stories.

The foundation doesn’t announce the amount of the grants, according to board member Heather Stephenson. However, the maximum granted is $500 per teacher per project.

The 2010-2011 grants are to go to:

• Leffingwell High School Principal Bob Watt and teachers Sandra Pound and Steve Dunn, so students can design, build, equip and use a pottery studio and kiln that also will be available to students of the other schools;



•Grammar school teachers Julie Bales, Denise Shaupp and Kim Gray;



• Middle-school teachers Colleen Poynter, Ann Rodgers and Ron Poulos;



• High-school teachers Wade Lawrence, Darcy Dobrec, Cyndie Wilson; and



• Counselor Jennifer Duarte.



There’s also a grant for a student-created tile mural on a wall of the high school.

“We want people to know that creative education does exist in our schools,” said board member Heather Stephenson. “And there are so many ways that local people can help make that happen.”

The foundation also paid for five new computers for the middle school and tickets to the Broadway musical “Wicked” for Coast Union High School students on the California Scholarship Federation College Tour in San Francisco.

Foundation’s founding

The foundation began fostering innovative school programs seven years ago. The idea sprouted during a conversation in the middle-school parking lot, after the women who would become the first board of directors learned that six teachers were going to be laid off.

They resurrected and renamed a nonprofit that attorney Don Brauer had founded to put computers in classrooms.

It quickly became obvious a nonprofit couldn’t raise enough ongoing funds to pay teachers’ salaries, but founders discovered other ways to help provide innovative and creative education.

The present foundation board includes Julie Adams, Julie Castle, Shannon Jackson, Suzanne Kennedy, Karen McManus, Monica Raethke and Stephenson. Jackson, Kennedy and Stephenson are school librarians.

Grant possibilities and their inspiring results are endless, Kennedy said. A talk by a poet laureate triggered a student’s winning poetry entry. And when the foundation brought in a local author to talk to students at all the schools, soon even younger students “wanted to be authors, too.”

“So we put together little ‘books’ in which they could write about their lives,” said Stephenson. “We have them at the library.”

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