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Heroes Among Us: GISD Education Foundation

The “Heroes Among Us” story series will be released twice monthly, featuring local heroes and organizations that exemplify the Totally Texas, All American spirit that is the fabric of the Gainesville Community. Stories are contributed by the City of Gainesville, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gainesville Economic Development Corporation, Gainesville Independent School District, and North Central Texas College.

For the past 15 years, the Gainesville ISD Education Foundation has been a constant supporter of GISD teachers and students.  This group of volunteers are Heroes Among Us, comprised of business, community, and education leaders.

The Foundation Board of Directors works throughout the year to generate funds and distribute resources to GISD to enrich, maintain, and expand programs needed to meet the district’s stated mission in excellence. The Foundation shares the district’s vision of enhancing education at GISD.

The GISD Education Foundation was established in 2002 and has been providing grants since 2003, according to Tamara Sieger, President of the GISD Education Foundation.   Sieger said the grants benefit GISD students and teachers by supporting activities and programs which may not be funded through the annual school budget.

In the fall of each year, all GISD teachers are invited to apply for an Innovative Teaching Grant.  These grants are written for anything from field trips to classroom equipment, and are used to enrich the educational experience of students in GISD.  In December, excitement spreads throughout the hallways when the prize patrol circulates the district, surprising teachers, campus leaders, and students with the award of a grant.   

“Innovative teaching grants that are experiential or have a potentially lasting impact on the education of students are paramount.  Board members carefully consider each grant application and the impact on students long-term,” Sieger said.  “We strive to provide students opportunities to learn in different ways, which may cause them to set higher expectations for themselves, and inspire them to be future leaders of our community.”

Edison Elementary has been receiving the "Audience in Action" grant for the past 13 years, enabling all students to attend a live performance at NCTC's Performing Arts Center.

“This grant allowed our students not only the opportunity to go on a field trip but it has exposed them to live theater,” said Jill Linnell, Edison Fine Arts teacher.  “Many of our students may never have an opportunity to be exposed to theater and all the experiences it can bring.  It is amazing to see how a field trip can give kids a ‘thing’ that can lead to success as they grow up and participate in One Act Play or community theatre.”

In 2018-19, a record-breaking 24 grants were awarded for a combined total of $31,402.76, which is the most the Education Foundation has ever granted in one year.  Since 2003, the Education Foundation has awarded $315,323 to GISD classrooms to expand the educational opportunities of students. 

Another continuous grant recipient is the 5th grade science classes at Lee Intermediate.  Since 2009, the Foundation has awarded a grant for an environmental field trip to Leeper Lake.

“Fifth grade is the first opportunity many students have to do what they call ‘real’ science,” Tracy Henry, said. “This field trip allows me and my teaching partners to impact these students in ways we cannot in school.”

Each year, new innovative grant applications are granted as the teachers think outside-of-the-box and reach out to the foundation for support for their creative instructional needs.

In addition to teacher grants, the Foundation also celebrate the successes of the GHS graduating class by recognizing the Top 10% at the Shining Stars Gala in the spring. Prior to the gala, each student picks a teacher that has made the most impact in their years at GISD.  These Distinguished Educators are invited to attend the gala with the Shining Stars and their families, where both are recognized.

“I am proud of the board members who volunteer their time to make a difference for students and educators in our community.  Each member shares a genuine passion for educators and helping children reach their potential.  The important work of the GISD Education Foundation could not be accomplished without the dedication of the board members and I am thankful to each of them, “said Tamara Sieger.

The Education Foundation relies on community and business donations to allow for the continued support to GISD.  Donations can now easily be made at any time throughout the year through an online donation on the GISD website.  For more information on the Education Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.gainesvilleisd.org/foundation.