Schools Superintendent Lori White, Education Foundation Chairman David Sessions, Education Foundation Executive Director Cindy Kaiser
Education Foundation supporters launch 21st year at the new Riverview High School
Sarasota, Florida – September 11, 2009 – “When we needed dollars for literacy, we turned to you and you took it on,” Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White told the audience gathered at Riverview High School last night. “The Education Foundation was a critical component in our success during the past year.”
Education Foundation of Sarasota County donors and volunteers heard from the schools chief before touring the newest public school in the region, guided by student ambassadors. Superintendent White congratulated the group for raising a record $1.257 million for the schools in the past year, plus additional contributions of goods and services, at a time when school budgets are stretched to the limit. She thanked the Foundation for creating initiatives, like Literacy for Life, to insure that students develop the skills they need to succeed in the work place and in life.
David Sessions, chairman of the group’s board of directors, joined executive director Cindy Kaiser to welcome more than 175 guests and student ambassadors attending the Foundation’s annual donor appreciation party. Sessions highlighted the Foundation’s impact on teachers and student learning. “Through our Texcellence program,” he said, “we have provided home computers, training and support for over 2,500 students – and changed the lives of entire families.” Other programs made possible by Education Foundation donors include classroom grants for teachers, literacy programs and after-school tutoring, Teacher of the Year, the Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, Academic Olympics, student achievement awards and scholarships.
Kaiser offered special accolades to contributors who led the way with gifts of $100,000 or more during the past year, including Allan and Sandy Weis, Advanced Network & Services, Inc., the Dart Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation, W.G. Mills, Inc., and the Swift Family Foundation. Philanthropist and entrepreneur Allan Weis, who sold his company to AOL in the mid-1990s, addressed the audience while complimentary copies of his new book, The Business of Changing Lives, were distributed to guests.
The reception was sponsored by W.G. Mills, building contractor for the new school. Mills executive Timothy D. Hensey and Riverview principal Dr. Linda Nook shared stories about what it took to complete the facility under budget and in time to open this August. Senior class president Taylor Stein thanked the audience and local taxpayers for making the new school a reality. “We are so privileged to be the first class to graduate from the new Riverview, and we will be proud to return here for many years to come,” she said.
Sarasota County’s 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year, Riverview’s Chuck Evans, told those gathered how fortunate he felt to represent the district at state competition. “Teachers from other communities found out they had won when their principal showed up with a certificate,” the Riverview physics and percussion teacher said. “Here, thanks to the Education Foundation, we are made to feel very special, honored with a luncheon, surprised with gifts, handed the keys to new car on year’s lease, and given a nice check, which made my wife very happy.”
The Riverview HS Highlander Drum Corps, led by Evans, welcomed guests in the school’s central courtyard as they arrived for the evening. The Riverview HS Army JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) provided parking guides and escorts.
Sandy & Al Weis, Texcellence Coordinator Alina Klein
Pam & Cliff Truitt, RHS Principal Linda Nook