Local Commentary

Run For Schools Virtual Race Doesn’t Diminish Support

By Cecily Shea

The Falls Church Education Foundation (FCEF) will hold its 16th Annual 5K Run/Walk for the Schools event this weekend, Sept. 12 and 13. This tradition usually brings together our extended community with 800 plus participants of all ages and abilities, but, like most things since mid-March, will look much different this year. With in-person sports and schools on hold, we opted to “go virtual” with our annual race and fundraiser in order to respect the health and well-being of all participants, sponsors, student volunteers, police and sheriff departments. We are spreading out the event over the course of the weekend. You pick the course and you pick the time! Each registered participant will receive a swag bag along with a coveted FCEF Run for the Schools t-shirt. Expand your collection or start yours this year. You may register at www.fcedf.org/runfortheschools through midnight Saturday, September 12th. You may choose to have your shirt mailed or you may pick up your bag at the State Theatre on Friday, 9/11 from 5 – 8 p.m. if you’ve already registered (outside, masked and socially distanced, please!).

Awards for the 2020 race will be as unique as the event. For a change of pace, our fastest runners will not necessarily be the winners. We ask participants to follow FCEF on social media: @FCEFoundation on Twitter, fcefoundation on Instagram, or Falls Church Education Foundation on Facebook. Post a photo and tag us at #VitualFCEFRun2020. Our award categories are: “We’ve got spirit! Yes we do!”, awarded to the best edition of school spiritwear; “We are family!” for best family photo op; “You can go your own way!” for best photo on the most creative route taken; and “Believe in your selfie!” for the best post-race selfie. This the most even playing field in the history of the run. Don’t have a five-minute mile time like the winners in the past? No problem. Just get creative and enjoy the process while supporting the Foundation that supports our community and public schools.

The proceeds from the race and our October online auction fund our mission’s 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.
For the 2019-20 academic year, FCEF helped ensure the equity of access for all students in a variety of ways. FCEF provided funds for special education peer mentoring programs and a music therapy program. FCEF provides funding to support ESOL staff and students through after-school tutoring/mentoring programs. Our most significant support of equity, with incredibly generous funding from our businesses and community members, provided over $120,000 for emergency food for families. FCEF will continue our support through the duration of the crisis and beyond. This summer, FCEF purchased FCCPS administrators and team leaders Ibram X. Kendi’s book, “How to Be an Anti-Racist” for excellent discussion on this critical area of work.

FCEF helped prepare students for the modern world by funding $89,000 for creative and innovative “Super Grants” including: pre-school sensory walkway, ukuleles for elementary music, elementary reading support, 3D printers for TJES STEAM classes, middle school digital theater, math space, choral arts technology, upcycled makers program, middle school PE Ninja Warriors program, film equipment, pottery wheels, substance abuse speaker, mobile equipment workshop, Hispanic book festival, and ESOL Books.

FCEF stewarded over 30 scholarships awarded to GMHS graduates to support their next level of post-secondary education. These scholarships include grants for vocational training, community college, ESOL and special education students, as well as four-year universities.

To help teachers stay on the cutting edge of best teaching practices, FCEF provided $54,000 in professional development. With FCEF funding, teachers and counselors were able to attend the training and conferences that included: math instruction best practices, model schools (principals), preschool children’s garden play, Orton-Gillingham to support learning with dyslexia, English educators, child yoga, mathamatricks, small group skills, learning forward, SxSW for education, agricultural science, MYP assessment, foreign language teachers, IB literature in translation, ceramics workshop, social work, school finance, mental health training and special education administrators.

FCEF awarded $1500 in its annual Teacher of the Year award to Ms. Layton McCann, TJES fourth grade teacher and $500 to Professional Employee of the Year, GMHS’ Vicki Galliher. The FCCPS Celebration of Excellence was held online to recognize them and the other nominees.

We are grateful for the generous business and community support that allows FCEF to provide grants and programs. We look forward to seeing you participate in the virtual event this weekend!

For more information about the FCEF programs, scholarships, and events, visit fcedf.org, or contact Debbie Hiscott at dhiscott@fcedf.org.

Cecily Shea is President of the Board of the Falls Church Education Foundation.