June 20, 2018
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Awards and grants bestowed on local teachers

  • Superintendent Robert Haley with Valerie Moran - secondary, Vera Blanquie EF President and Ryan Kurada - elementary winners of the 21st Century Award at May 16th's award and grants events organized by the Education Foundation of Rohnert Park. Robert Grant

By: Irene Hilsendager
May 25, 2018

What is an Education Foundation? An educational foundation is an organization set up to educate the public and often act as charitable benefactors raising funds for and awarding scholarships and grants. Wednesday, May 16 was such a day of giving awards and grants to teachers from the Rohnert Park-Cotati Unified School District. 

The Board of Directors is made up of active members from the community, parents, business leaders, teachers and administrators who all share a common bond with education. The community must work as a whole to prepare the young for a very complicated world. While the foundation is independent of the school district, communication must be maintained through a district liaison. The Education Foundation assists teachers by supporting the teachers’ quality of education. 

All kinds of groups, from fraternities to animal right activities, but mostly educational foundations focus on a specific group; however, the Educational Foundation has a unified goal and that is giving grants to teachers. The Education Foundation of Cotati and Rohnert Park was founded in 1983 due to the reality of dwindling state funds available to support education integrity in the local community.

Vera Blanquie, a long time Education Foundation president and master of ceremonies introduced the room of city and school dignitaries. 

“Another year has passed with summer upon us and it is time for the yearly grant giveaway. It is time to appreciate the talented leadership that is best for our schools,” Blanquie said.

Through many different fund-raising activities and generous donors, the foundation provides otherwise unavailable funds for the education programs in all local classrooms. 

Fifty-four grants were handed to eager hands as names were being called. 

The Education Foundation also provides funding for innovative programs that address diversified styles of teaching and learning and allow students to be introduced to real life experiences.

The grant process begins with a teacher or administrator submitting a written proposal. The Grant Committee Facilitator assigns each grant a number so it will remain anonymous of the grant writer and school site.

Blanquie has been on the Education Foundation board for over 20 years and is very proud that she and her very talented board along with many giving sponsors has raised over $750,000 dollars. 

One other fund raiset puts the funds in the grant ‘kitty’ is the Sharing of the Green, 32 years of a ballroom evening of fun with dancing dinner, live auctions and raffles. 

Dr. Venus Maher, a prominent chiropractor does Doctors with a Heart every spring and donates all proceeds to the foundation. The Accordion Festival also gives $5,000 from their ‘must attend’ August festival. 

Outstanding educators are presented with the Lou Colby Award. This award was named after Lucille Colby who was an educator for 33 years. In 1977 she came to Rohnert Park teaching third grade at Waldo Rohnert Elementary and went on to be the principal at La Fiesta School for eight years and interim principal at Mountain Shadow Middle School. Colby passed away in September of 2000. The Colby Award has had a name change. Now it is called the 21st Century Award and two recipients were on hand to receive the coveted award. 

Ryan Kurada has been teaching for only three short years. He has a master’s in early childhood and is a great motivator when it comes to leadership.

Valerie Moran has been a middle to high school project leader. Moran even sets up crime scenes in her classroom for the students to solve. Valerie was an instant grant writer with absolutely no experience and an excellent teacher in the Pathway Medical Program.