By Angela Ryan —
As we enter the fourth month of the 2022-23 school year, I think any parent, educator, or student would agree that the long-awaited return of near-normalcy at our schools has finally arrived, and it’s thrilling, to say the least. The grind of the pandemic has given us an enhanced appreciation of being able to be together, and everything from stands full of families and students at a Dragons football game to the incredible turnout of our Red & White Ball community event in August feels welcomed and overdue.
While we relish the normalcy of being reunited, we are also reminded that the needs of our hardworking educators remain evergreen. Which is why the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) remains deeply committed to a cornerstone program of our organization – Classroom Grants – which enables us to make small grants available to teachers and school staff to purchase supplies and materials, plan educational and engaging experiences and field trips, and invest in their professional development and continuing education.
Last year, knowing that the needs of students increased dramatically during the pandemic and distance learning, we doubled the size of the grant from $500 to $1000 and expanded the list of eligible projects to ensure that teachers had what they needed to help students succeed. We also moved to the online platform Donors Choose, which makes funding and fulfillment efficient and expedited, and allows for a year-round cycle of approvals–instead of one application deadline a year. Each time we click the “Fund this project” button, we are thankful for the community support that provides tremendous value and tangible impact for the students and educators of Sonoma Valley’s public schools.
Some unique examples we’ve funded this year include virtual reality headsets for the Flowery Elementary School library, which puts the universe at students’ fingertips, and Dash Robots for Sassarini Elementary School’s Maker Lab, which students can program to move, sing, dance and more. To see a complete list of the projects we’ve been able to fund through community support, visit our Classroom Grants page.
We’re grateful for the generosity of community members to enable the growth of this program, and we’re hopeful that folks will have increased exposure to the incredible creativity and ingenuity of our local teachers and a more approachable way to support the local schools.
As we approach the 30th Anniversary of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation in 2023, we are committed to being there for our students and educators every step of the way. We can only do that with the support and engagement of our local community, so we invite you to join us in fulfilling the promise of remaining Unified – our district’s middle name – in the pursuit of excellence in Valley youth and our public schools.
Angela Ryan is the Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation