Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: F.C. Education Foundation Working for City Schools

By Cecily Shea

The Falls Church Education Foundation will hold its 14th Annual Gala & Auction, “Lights, Camera, Auction!,” this Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Golf and Country Club. Through the incredible generosity of the Falls Church community, this event raises funds for the Falls Church Education Foundation’s (FCEF) three pillars of support for the Falls Church City Public Schools (FCCPS). Those pillars are ensuring equity of access for all students, preparing students for the modern world, and assisting with staff readiness. Jeanne Seabridge, FCCPS Director of Teaching, Learning and Achievement, sums up the reach of FCEF: “It is incredibly amazing when you think about how much the Falls Church Education has impacted every aspect of our school division. We truly could not do many of the incredible things that we do without their support. We are so appreciative of the FCEF and all of our wonderful community members who donate to support our schools.”

For the 2017-2018 school year, FCEF helped ensure the equity of access for all students in a variety of ways. For the second year, FCEF provided funds for a Special Education peer mentoring program at Thomas Jefferson, Mary Ellen Henderson, and George Mason High School. FCEF provided FCCPS, Mary Riley Styles Library, and the police department with books for their summer Read & Roll program which goes into the community to give books to students who might not have access to books in the summer. Also, FCEF continued to fund the Language Instruction Education Program after-school tutoring and mentoring program for English language learners at Mount Daniel, Thomas Jefferson, Mary Ellen Henderson and George Mason. Not only did the students receive tutoring and mentoring, but also stuffed animals, books, and fun experiences.

FCEF helped prepare FCCPS students for the modern world by funding $53,000 for the following creative and innovative “Super Grants”: International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program e-books and a Pitsco Zoon hot air balloon maker at Thomas Jefferson; a library projector and screen at Mary Ellen Henderson; an augmented reality sandbox, science lab equipment, ergonomic chairs, a CNC wire bender and Farmbot at George Mason. Superintendent Dr. Peter Noonan states, “FCCPS is so grateful to the Foundation for providing sustainable support to the schools that enables us to innovate and push the envelope of what is possible for our kids. How many school systems in America have a ‘Farmbot’? Our kids are engaged around this innovation and are learning at high levels because of the support from the FCEF.” FCEF also stewarded over 30 scholarships that are awarded to George Mason’s graduates to support their next level of educational training.

To help the FCCPS teachers and stay on the cutting edge of best teaching practices, FCEF provided $35,000 in professional development in the 2017-2018 school year. Lisa High, FCCPS Chief Academic Officer, states: “The FCCPS instructional team is grateful to the FCEF for their commitment to Excellence in Education! Together, we make a difference!” Because of FCEF funding, teachers and counselors were able to attend the following training and conferences: Orton-Gillingham, reading recovery, collaboration, IB Primary Years Program, IB Middle Years Program, IB Diploma Program, National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference, National Association for College Admission Counseling, and American School Counselors Association.

Three years ago, FCEF began awarding $1,500 to the Falls Church Education Foundation Teacher of the Year. The Washington Post had decided to award only the top winner and not each school division’s nominee as it had done for years. Mr. Farrell Kelly, this year’s Falls Church Education Foundation Teacher of the Year, received his check at last week’s FCCPS Celebration of Excellence.

Last summer, FCEF was tapped by Todd Hitt, Kiddar Capital, to steward the $100,000 Hitt Fund for the Arts and Humanities. This generous donation enabled FCEF to fund the following: a Wolf Trap Residency for Thackrey Preschool and Mount Daniel; a kick wheel and splash pan for ceramics at Thomas Jefferson; a new craft design class, audio-visual equipment, staging and a mural at Mary Ellen Henderson; a music student leadership seminar, replacement band instruments, a Blackmagic camera, print versions of the Lasso, a large format printer, and a new kiln at Mason; and music therapy classes at Thomas Jefferson, Mary Ellen Henderson and George Mason.

Please join us this Friday for “Lights, Camera, Auction!” Tickets are available at the door for $150 per person. “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” stated Helen Keller. “Because of your generosity, our students and teachers have benefitted much, and we are grateful!” states High.
For more information about the Falls Church Education Foundation programs, scholarships, and events, visit www.fcedf.org, contact any of our volunteer Board of Directors or Executive Director, Debbie Hiscott at dhiscott@fcedf.org.


Cecily Shea is president of the Falls Church Education Foundation.