The Owensboro Public Schools Foundation for Excellence grants are largely funded by the grant recipients themselves. The last two years, an average of 223 OPS employees gave almost $13,000 out of their own pockets each year to help fund school grants. That hard-earned money comes from teachers, cafeteria staff, bus drivers and other OPS staff.
The percentage of OPS employees giving to the OPS Foundation is well above the national average, as reported by the National School Foundation Association.
“With additional funding resources being so hard to come by, it’s incredible to see our employees sacrificing their own money for enhanced opportunities in the classroom for our students,” said Dr. Nick Brake, OPS Superintendent.
During this time of the year, OPS teachers are encouraged to apply for the foundation grants. The OPS Foundation for Excellence awards the grants on Opening Day in August after a long deliberation process. This past year, money went to help fund new microphones for students at Cravens, a Boys2Men and Girls Etiquette club at Newton Parrish, renewable energy science kits at Owensboro Middle School North, Project Lead the Way at Estes, a journalism project at OHS, an Early Childhood Pathway at OHS, as well as funds for needed instructional supplies at all eleven OPS schools.
“OMS South is using our foundation grant to offset the cost of digital programs that we make available to our students in order to better individualize instruction,” said Patrick Tines, OMS South Principal.
The rest of the money for the grants, which have been given out since 2005, comes from other foundation donors including foundation board members. The Foundation for Excellence is made up of OPS alumni and community members who have a passion for maintaining and improving Owensboro Public Schools’ Tradition of Excellence. The Foundation recently named retired OPS employee and alumna Janet Suwanski executive director.
Owensboro Public Schools’ theme for Opening Day (day where all staff meets before first day of school) on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 10 a.m. at the Owensboro High School north gym was “Why We Come to Work Every Day.” In light of how heartbreaking the last few months in our country have been, OPS recognized the efforts of some of community partners who OPS works with every day like the Owensboro Police Department, NAACP, Human Relations Commission and the Neblett Center.
“OPD, the NAACP, Human Relations Commission and Neblett Center work extremely hard together to serve and protect the rights of our students and staff. We are not without our problems, but for the most part, we are fortunate to not see the things we are witnessing around the country,” said Dr. Nick Brake, OPS Superintendent.
At Opening Day, all staff members celebrated the start of school with performances from OPS Fine Arts students, found out who won Foundation For Excellence grants and watched a couple videos of teachers and community partners explain why they come to work every day. Before showing the second half of the Opening Day video, OPS recognized community partners.
“I cannot think of a better way to start the school year than to celebrate our diversity, partnerships and all things that make OPS a special place to work and to attend school,” said Brake.
Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake wrapped up the ceremony addressing the staff about progress and what the district’s goals are for the upcoming year.
On Friday Nov. 20 at 9 a.m., Owensboro Innovation Academy engineering students and some Gateway Academy students saw a project they’ve been working on come to fruition. OIA students created 3D wood puzzles for the clients of Puzzle Pieces. Each puzzle is personalized for a specific recipient. Gateway Academy students created carrying cases for the puzzles.
“This is another example of the real world application our students at Owensboro Innovation Academy are receiving on a daily basis,” said Beth Benjamin, OIA Director.
“At Gateway Academy, we’re trying to teach our students they can make a difference in this community. This partnership with Puzzle Pieces is an excellent start,” said Melissa Brown, Gateway Academy Principal.
According to its website, Puzzle Pieces’ mission is to provide a safe environment for individuals with intellectual disabilities and promote independence, life skills, community access and involvement, social interaction, communication, self-worth and build trusting relationships between clients, staff, and families. Through our programs, we meet the individual needs of the clients we serve with a person-centered approach while incorporating a social atmosphere with opportunities to access the community.
The membership of Kentucky Music Educators Association District 2, representing teachers across Union, Henderson, Webster, Hopkins, McLean, Daviess, Ohio and Hancock counties selected five Owensboro Public School Employees as Music Teachers, Administrator and Friend of Music for 2016. Each were nominated and presented by their peers then elected by the music teachers of the district. Congratulations to these outstanding individuals. Their efforts make every day a great day in Owensboro Public Schools!
Liz Tullis-Music Specialist Newton Parrish -Elementary Music Teacher of the Year
Steven Bratcher-Principal, Newton Parrish-Administrator of the Year
Joyce Goodwin-OPS Piano Accompanist-Friend of Music
Aaron Klausing-OHS Assistant Band Director-High School Music Teacher of the Year
Kaitlin Callihan-OMS South Band Director-Middle School Music Teacher of the Year
OIA students partnered with Habitat For Humanity to paint sheds that the students also designed. The project is a perfect example of what OPS means when we say educate the whole child!!
Owensboro High School seniors walked the halls of their OPS elementary and middle schools on Thursday, May 12 at 9 a.m. The seniors were dressed in their graduation caps and gowns. Elementary and middle school students filled the hallways to watch the high schoolers parade the halls they once called home.
“It’s important for our seniors to show younger students in our school system how important it is to not only finish your K-12 education but to excel in your 13 to 14 years depending on preschool at OPS. It was great seeing the inspiring looks on the younger students’ faces when they saw their older idols grace their halls,” said John DeLacey.
“OPS is a family. Many of our graduates got to exchange smiles and hugs with their younger siblings, cousins and friends. They got to visit their former teachers who had a huge impact on their lives. It was a day to remember,” added DeLacey.
Each elementary school chose a different book to read, then to bring to life in the form of a multi-faceted piece of art.
“This project-based learning celebrates the OPS literacy initiative and is a great example of the arts making learning memorable for our students,” said Tom Stites, OPS fine arts coordinator.
This is the second year Molly Eric has worked with OPS elementary students. Last year, they created a large-scale art project celebrating Kentucky that currently hangs in the OPS central office stairway.
“OPS is a mecca when it comes to providing art opportunities for students. Whether it’s the visual arts or the performing arts, OPS truly does believe in every art for every child,” said Molly Eric, Kentucky Arts Council artist.
So far, Eric has worked with Estes students. They recently finished reading “The Polar Express” and created a decoupage canvas depicting author Chris Van Allsburg and some imagery from the book. Eric also already visited Sutton Elementary School. Below is Eric’s schedule for the rest of the elementary schools.
Jan. 30-31- 1-3 p.m. – Cravens
Feb. 1-2 – 1-3 p.m. – Newton Parrish
Feb. 8-9 – 1-3 p.m. – Foust