There is never enough money in the public school systems around the state to accomplish all that is desired — or all that is possible — in the classrooms. Education foundations in the districts that have them are stepping up to fill in the gaps.
The Keller ISD Education Foundation was established 10 years ago to raise funds from throughout the community to enhance the educational experience within the district. But the community is far wider than just Keller.
“The Keller ISD is unique from other large districts in North Texas because it encompasses nine cities — Keller, Fort Worth, Southlake, Colleyville, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Haltom City, Hurst and Westlake,” said Debbie Barton, chair of the foundation. The district has more than 34,000 students.
“It is so important for the local businesses and the parents to know the foundation is here and exists for the sole purpose of helping our teachers and students,” Barton said. “As the state education budgets evolve each year, the only way that some of the important projects become a reality is through the foundation. We simply cannot accomplish excellence in education with state and district funds alone.”
Funds raised go toward an endowment goal and are also distributed to Keller ISD students and faculty to enhance the district’s academic environment. Barton says the foundation is about halfway to its goal of a $1 million endowment. The organization’s annual gala was scheduled for April 25 at Texas Motor Speedway, both to raise money and to recognize and honor 2013-2014 teaching grant recipients and the Teachers of the Year from each campus and for the district.
“The teacher who makes a lasting impression on us is the one who has the true passion and love for learning and educating,” Barton said. “They go the extra mile in their classrooms to provide materials and programs that may not be covered in their campus’ budget. They find a way to make it happen for their students.”
Years later, students may rarely remember who won the Super Bowl or who was President of the United States when they were in second grade. “But we can always name our favorite teacher,” Barton said.
“Very few of us can go back and thank that special teacher personally,” she said. “This is why the foundation exists — to support our teachers so they can make a difference in inspiring their students to be the best they can be.”
The foundation says that its goal is to enhance the quality of the district’s educational programs by funding enrichment programs and technologies that are not supported by local and state budgets and provide scholarship funds to qualifying seniors of Keller ISD.
It also awards up to five $250 grants to individual teachers from the Lisa Veitenheimer Memorial Fund. Veitenheimer served more than 20 years in the classroom and championed the foundation when she and her husband, former superintendent James Veitenheimer, moved to Keller in 2004. She died in 2009 after a brief illness.