By ROB W. ANDERSON
The Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation has a new president, and an anonymous donation has given the group an opportunity to increase funding of educational experiences for local students.
Kin Thompson was named TPS Foundation president in January, and he looks forward to the continued efforts of supporting and helping Tahlequah students and educators.
“We want to help teachers provide excellence in the classroom,” said Thompson. “Anything we can do to help invest in our students is a plus.”
The $32,307.26 donation, which will be an annual gift, made it possible for the Foundation to award several partial grants recently to aid teachers in classroom endeavors.
TPSF Vice President Luke Foster said one middle school class was given money to purchase some WittFitt stability balls, which have benefits like improving posture, enhancing attention and concentration, improving learning through movement, incorporating health and wellness into the classroom experience, and promoting active sitting.
“We actually gave more this year than we’ve been able to give in the past couple of years,” he said.
TPSF wanted to provide a limited amount of money to every teacher who submitted a proposal, though future funding will be contingent upon the project’s viability or future application, Foster said.
“We ended up giving partial funding to see how it works with one of the grades. If it works well, they can apply for full funding next year,” he said.
Members of the TPSF walked the halls of every school Feb. 15 in search of teachers who submitted grant proposals, said board member Josh Reasor. The perpetual donation will fluctuate with the market from year to year, but next year’s total is expected to be near the $32,000 mark, he noted.
“The Foundation granted nearly $21,000 back to the classrooms,” said Reasor. “This amount would not have been possible without the support of an anonymous donor, who left an ongoing gift to the Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation. This generous gift will allow the Foundation to give more back to the classroom, and to build its endowment to be a self-funding foundation someday.”
Thompson said he enjoys being able to help teachers and their students, and the partial grants have come at the right time with future budget cuts still looming.
“Money is tight everywhere. Teachers have to do with less or fund things on their own. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of our world,” he said. “I love providing teachers with books and supplies they need to go above and beyond what the district can provide.”
TPSF also recently held its wine and cheese fundraiser at the Town Branch Guest Ranch, on the lower Illinois River. The event, hosted by property owner and Tahlequah Board of Education member Brian Berry, took place on Valentine’s Day and entertained 160 guests, said Reasor. Many local businesses donated products for the event, which raised about $3,000.
Past Foundation Vice President Scott Rosenthal took a group of 40 people on a charter bus trip to the state’s capital Feb. 24 to see the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Chicago Bulls. The day trip included shopping at The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City and then dining in Bricktown before attending the NBA. The charter bus was provided by TPS.
Reasor said the Foundation will host its Glow Golf Tournament again at the Tahlequah City Golf Course on Friday, April 26.
“Space is limited, and will sell out very fast. Last year’s winning team had a gentleman who had never played before, showing [the tournament] is just all about a great time,” he said. “No hole will be longer than 160 yards, and you’ll play with a glow-in-the-dark ball by moonlight. Check TPSFoundation. blogspot.com for upcoming registration information.”