When Superintendent Dr. Kent DeKoninck interviewed with the Greenwood Community School Board the summer of 2013, they dreamed of possibilities. Four years later, one of those, the Greenwood Education Foundation (GEF), has greatly impacted students, educators and the community.
An all-volunteer foundation that meets monthly, the GEF board issues grants to teachers and administrators. Currently, the board and an impartial evaluation panel consisting of retired teachers and business professionals are evaluating grant applications. Applicants will be notified by March 6 regarding their idea’s approval, and funding will be dispersed in April.
As the school’s liaison for the GEF board, DeKoninck noted applications are rated according to the evaluators’ rubric scoring, relationship to the corporation’s mission, school equity and the overall question as to how many children will be impacted. Since November 2015, three application cycles have awarded 42 grants, totaling $45,000. Much of that has enhanced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum in each school. “Over half of the fall 2015 grants were awarded for robotic and STEM-related needs. Currently, each school has a robotics club.”
Examples of the grants awarded in November 2016 included supplies for robotics at GMS, a video drone for public relations and an intonation instrument for the band at GHS and the purchase of the Proloquo2Go Communication app for students with disabilities at Southwest Elementary. Isom and Westwood Elementary Schools were also grant recipients.
Donna Jones, who began her parental involvement as Southwest Elementary’s PTO president, was recently elected to her third GEF term. Her primary goal is always to help teachers. “I want to eliminate the need for teachers to pull money out of their pockets to educate children.” Jones also works closely with Stephani Remetta, the grant chairperson.
“The positive impact of the Foundation is shining through in our teachers, students and staff. As a parent of a Greenwood student, I can’t help but smile knowing that my son’s school experience will be better, thanks to the work of the Foundation,” said Remetta.
Along with Jones and Remetta, 14 other volunteers serve as GEF board members. According to DeKoninck, their monthly meetings enhance this grassroots process. “This group is a piece that helps fill in funding gaps, so we don’t have to ask more from our community.” He emphasized its impact stimulates community pride, citing an example of the GHS and GMS robotics teams qualifying for state competition.
The GEF board’s largest fundraiser, Monte Carlo Night, also requires many volunteer hours. Chairwoman Kelly Brooks works closely with Jones in preparing for this year’s event, Saturday, February 25, from 7-11 p.m. at The Sycamore at Mallow Run. “We are definitely building upon last year’s event and are expecting to sell out. We have secured numerous sponsors, and the excitement is increasing. The funds raised will make a difference in students’ lives. We are very motivated by that,” said Brooks.
Monte Carlo ‘17 features an old-style Vegas theme highlighted by the Jaden Street Jazz, an Indianapolis jazz and ballroom dance band (jadenstreetjazz.com). Casino games, such as Roulette, Craps, Blackjack and Wheel of Fortune, presented by the Broad Ripple Sertoma Club will give participants a chance to win prizes. Opportunities to donate throughout the evening include a silent auction and a jewelry raffle. A dinner catered by Crafton Peek is also included in the $60 individual ticket. Tables of 10 can be reserved for $500.
Monte Carlo ‘16, the first GEF major fundraising event, raised $16,000 with 180 attending. The committee is planning for 300 this year. Because of legalities surrounding gaming, Jones explained, “It has been a learning curve for sure, but I’m extremely proud of our impact.”
The GEF board, dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities through staff, parental and community engagement and collaboration, exists to promote student excellence. Besides offering educational grants, the board would like to expand to include scholarships, supplemental funds for school activities and eventually a paid director. However, its core purpose will continue to benefit students and teachers directly.
“Our desire is to give teachers a mechanism to do things to help their students that they could not have done without extra funding,” said DeKoninck. Spring and fall grant cycles average $15,000 each. After grant implementation, recipients must complete paperwork assessing its benefit to the students. To view grant titles and their recipients, visit gws.k12.in.us/greenwood-education-foundation/gef-information.
An “A” school corporation for five consecutive years, Greenwood Community School Corporation understands additional funding is necessary to maintain excellence. “Honestly, I think we’ve made an incredibly huge impact in our schools. Due to demographic changes and state allotments, there is a need to supplement state funding for teachers,“ said Jones.
Proof once again that with hard work and collaboration, dreams foster success.