Education Foundation helps Lake Zurich schools go from ‘good to great’
Colleen Brouse, Mel Fox and Nikki Kunkel's fourth-grade team celebrates a $500 check for its participation in Isaac Fox Elementary School's Books for Reading Comprehension initiative. | Photos courtesy Claire Slattery
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:42AM
LAKE ZURICH — During the last six years, the School District 95 Educational Foundation has raised and steered hundreds of thousands of dollars toward technology upgrades at Lake Zurich schools.
“There’s only so much you can do with state and federal budgets,” said Nancy Coleman, the executive director of the District 95 Educational Foundation.
“I think our most difficult challenge is people don’t understand what we do,” Coleman added.
One of the foundation’s recent campaigns was to improve the student-to-computer ratio in the district. That campaign started when the foundation realized that Libertyville and Lincolnshire schools surpassed District 95 in that area, she explained.
“We have closed that gap and we’re doing very well,” Coleman said.
Another successful technological addition funded by the foundation was the e-school module, which allows for remote access to grades, progress reports, class and bus schedules, and other information.
“It’s a database of all the students,” Coleman said. “Students are given a user name and password so they can monitor their grades. I don’t know any parents who don’t use the e-school module.”
Phil Guerrero, who chairs the foundation’s executive committee, added that a current foundation priority is the “split classroom” initiative, in which students can watch a lecture online from home, then discuss it the next day at school.
“We’re trying to bring additional technology into the classroom to enhance the learning for District 95 students,” said Guerrero.
All of these initiatives, Guerrero explained, have addressed shortages the foundation has identified across the district.
“We kind of take our cues from the district,” he said.
Coleman reported that the foundation also started an iPad pilot program in the high school’s environmental science class.
“I kind of consider ourselves an incubator for innovation,” she said. “Our job is to pilot things to see if they work.”
Lisa Warren, who is the treasurer for the District 95 Educational Foundation, said although technology initiatives are a large part of the foundation’s agenda, it is not all the group does.
“We try to find things that kids have a passion for,” Warren said. “We’re looking at doing a district wide film festival.”
Another goal is building an alumni association through the foundation.
“We’re identifying alumni across the local community and trying to build a database to get them all together,” said Coleman.
The District 95 Educational Foundation is funded through community events like a Mardi Gras dinner and auction in February, as well as a 5-kilometer walk which be held this year on Sunday, Sept. 30.
Coleman added that the foundation also relies on private and corporate donations.
“There are a lot of companies out there that have priorities in education,” Coleman said. “The nice thing about the foundation is you’re not giving to just one school or one program. You’re giving to the whole system.”
In the future, Guerrero said, the foundation plans to focus on science and technology. He said the group is currently in the process of identifying new projects in which to fund-raise for the next school year.
“We’re trying to go from good to great,” Guerrero said.