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Amelia Islander

A Firm Foundation

Jul 31, 2014 09:54AM
Graphing calculators, iPads, Kindles, microscopes, Pulitzer Prize-winning books… these a re just some of the tools that Fernandina Beach High School (FBHS) students are enjoying thanks to the hard work and generosity of the Fernandina Beach High School Foundation. The Foundation, launched in the 1980s, is comprised of parents, community leaders, and local business people, all committed to funding academics at FBHS.

“The financial support provided by the FBHS Foundation makes educational innovation possible,” explains FBHS Principal Jane Arnold. One such way is through the ever-important ‘mini-grant.’” Yet there is nothing “mini” about the $15,000-$20,000 worth of gifts that the Foundation gives to teachers who make formal requests each and every year. “We are very strategic in the mini-grants we fund,” explains Foundation President Stacy Simmons. “Those funded will directly impact academics and the classroom.”

The teachers rave about the work of the FBHS Foundation. “The Foundation is awesome!” says Joseph Monaghan, who teaches English, reading, and intensive language. “It deserves as much praise as we teachers can give it. I’ve received two grants. The first was for Kindle e-readers, which I used to encourage my struggling readers. The students took to them, worked hard, and earned the school an ‘A’ grade that year. What’s more, many of our kids succeeded at reading where they previously struggled. The Foundation made that possible.”

“The FBHS Foundation understands the need to bring technology into the classroom,” stresses teacher Shane Talbert. “Because of this, we were able to purchase iPads, which offer the opportunity to engage students with content outside the traditional textbook approach.”

In addition to the mini-grant, teachers receive day-to-day items. “The Foundation welcomes our teachers back to school with cases of paper and gift cards to purchase classroom supplies,” smiles Arnold. “Because of the contributions to our art program, students are able to participate in multimedia projects that would be cost-prohibitive without this support.”

Most recently, the Foundation raised funds specifically for Project Pirate C.A.F.E. “This project helps students understand Culinary Arts through the entire process,” explains Chef Michael Gass, Culinary Arts educator. “C.A.F.E. stands for Culinary Arts Farming and Education. Students have the opportunity to produce, prepare, and, hopefully, serve the food they’ve grown.”

“Each of the 25 members of the FBHS Foundation is committed to our school,” says Arnold. Much of the fundraising is driven by two annual events: the Foundation Golf Tournament and the Foundation Feast. The FBHS Foundation Golf Tournament is October 3, 2014 at The Golf Club of Amelia Island. To reserve a spot or sponsor the event, contact Durand Childers at [email protected] school year’s Foundation Feast will be held at Walker’s Landing on February 28, 2015.

“As a parent, it is an honor to be a part of this group and make a difference in the lives of our students,” reflects Simmons. “The Foundation Feast is a great chance for the community to support us by attending or donating to the silent auction. We have a lot of fun eating oysters, and, this past year, extraordinary food prepared by Chef Gass’s culinary team.” For more information on the golf tournament or the Foundation Feast, email [email protected].