|Penngrove School wins Raley’s grant
School gets $10,000 to construct sunshade
Congratulations Penngrove Panthers!
Last week, schools throughout Northern California and Nevada were on pins and needles while cautiously waiting to find out if their efforts gave them enough votes to win the $10,000 Raley’s Reach grant award. A close race to the finish had teachers, parents, and administrators reaching out well beyond their school community to rally behind Penngrove Elementary and the long awaited construction of a permanent sunshade . The community listened and responded by reaching out even farther, and their efforts proved triumphant.
The idea of getting a sunshade cover of some sort over the student lunch area in the school yard has been kicked around for years.
“Certainly as long as I have been part of the school community (five years) and probably much longer than that,” Katie Kelly, a mom and project committee member explains.
Cutting through the red tape involved with getting a permanent structure approved on a public school campus proved to be a huge undertaking with both the district and the state. Then, of course, there's the task of funding the project, which will cost between $30,000- $40,000 to make it happen. A special committee at the school and the PTA have been working towards this goal. It's been more than a year now of reviewing and planning, and it is so exciting for all to see this project finally coming together.
As a new principal and a newcomer to the project, Amy Fadeji, faces challenges daily to make a limited budget work, all the while knowing more cuts to funding are likely to come. Sources of school funds are complicated and trenched in politics, but generally school funding comes from three basic sources: federal, state and local governments.
As is the case for most California public schools, Penngrove Elementary has lists of needs steadily increasing, and growth priorities have come to a complete standstill. Adversity however, inspires creativity, and seeking out alternative funding sources is rapidly becoming a necessary protocol for school operations. Fadeji joins a well-seasoned team of teachers, staff and parents who have been diligently seeking out diverse ways to meet the needs at Penngrove Elementary.
The effort that has gone into making this project happen is commendable. This truly has been an entire community effort, and it is heartwarming to see so many people working together for a good cause. The undertaking has proven to be a teachable lesson in effort. Even before the results came in, the staff and teachers at Penngrove had chosen effort to be this month’s life skill. Throughout the process, children witnessed first hand the challenges and rewards that come with putting forth effort.
The Raleys Grant award has been the catalyst to bring all of these forces together. The momentum caught on as the competition heated up, and what started out as a group of mom’s and school staff quickly grew into a whole community working alongside them.
Firemen, nurses, seniors, Rotary Club members, and other Petaluma school administrators all rallied together by encouraging everyone they know to register and vote for Penngrove Elementary. Making phone calls, sending emails, passing out flyers, standing with signs on street corners, setting up booths at local farmers markets and getting on the air with radio host Dr. Doug from KTRY were all part of the process. And on the final day, the principal herself visited the local hot spot, Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma during happy hour to get as many people as possible registered to secure those final votes.
The Raley’s Reach program attracted 128 nominations and more than 65,000 online votes. Earning a total of 6,856 votes, Penngrove received the most votes overall, receiving nearly 2,000 more than their closest competitor.
The lesson learned is to not give up or get discouraged by obstacles. The concerted efforts of so many, and the fortitude of a few, proved to be a success for Penngrove. Upon receiving the funds sometime mid-October, construction will begin, and by year’s end the children will be sharing stories, snacks, laughter, and memories under the shelter provided by their community whose support will be felt or many years to come.