Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation
55 Businesses + 21 Grants = 1 Big Celebration
Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation believes supporting schools adds up to good things for Tahlequah. That’s why they procured and donated $45,000 in grants to Tahlequah schools earlier this year. Uncorked 2015: Celebrating Teachers honored those educators on Thursday, May 7, and kick started fundraising for grants in 2016.
“We believe our teachers know what they’re doing, so we want to throw money at them and let them do it,” said Brandi Barnett, publicity chair for the Foundation. “The Uncorked event is a way to publicly give the teachers a pat on the back and have the community join the party.” President Barbara Fuller agreed. “Our goal for Uncorked was to celebrate our schools during Teacher and Staff Appreciation week.” In previous years, the event was held around Valentine’s Day, but TPSF found itself competing with Tahlequah Mainstreet’s wildly popular Wines of Winter.
Changing the date was a big hit. "Our community sponsors outdid themselves this year,” event co-chair Breanna Batey said. "Mary’s Liquor donated all of the wine. Cherokee Nation donated our location of The Spider Gallery. Reasor’s donated the cheese. Our food donors were Iguana, Napoli’s, Rib Crib, and Kawaii Cafe.” And then there were the auction items. “Local merchants and private citizens were more generous than ever,” Vice President Lucas Foster said. “It’s our most impressive list of auction items to date.” In fact, the donation list was so extensive that the planning committee decided to give door prizes. When merchants learned of this new component, many donated special items especially for educators.
TPSF board member Lisa Czlonka was pleased with the result. “I’m happy this free event allowed teachers to come and go. It made for a fun and dynamic group of people to spend time with throughout the night.” The committee worked to make the educators feel welcome and hoped to tempt them with a substitute for a day drawing. “In the last five or so years I’ve attended, I’ve never seen so many teachers—and many wore their school t-shirts, so there was a sense of pride and camaraderie that felt fresh,” Brandi Barnett said.
Fun was in the air. The Foundation succeeded in making it a family-friendly atmosphere where teachers and families mingled comfortably. “I love the fact that my kids attended and saw their teachers there. They enjoyed the event, bid on items, and won door prizes.” Mesha Sanchez, co-chair of the event said. “It’s very important to me that my kids saw their teachers in a social setting.”
Over the last year and half, the Foundation has focused on making sure the community knows of its existence so that it can increase donations and support schools even more. To learn more about the organization, follow Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation on Facebook. Also, go to their website www.tahlequahpublicschoolsfoundation.org where you can find donation information and a blog.
Why do TPSF members volunteer their time? They believe happy teachers and more financial support equals infinite possibilities in the classroom. Stronger schools equal stronger communities. You do the math.