The Beaumont Public Schools Foundation (BPSF) Inc. raised funds and fed hungry contributors at its 20th annual Fiesta Breakfast on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Crazy Jose’s in Beaumont. For breakfast, attendees gave $20 minimum donations, which go toward educational grants for Beaumont Independent School District staff and students.
Information provided by BPSF describes the foundation as a nonprofit organization that recognizes staff and students for creative learning ideas. The foundation’s board raises funds and administers awards to the grant-winners. BPSF has provided more than $176,000 to 276 grant awardees and $53,000 in scholarships to 79 recipients over the course of its 20 years. The organization distributed more than $50,000 in hurricane relief donations from the community to BISD students. The Fiesta Breakfast is one of two annual fundraisers for BPSF and has raised approximately $10,000 each year for BISD staff and student awards. Crazy Jose’s and BBVA Compass Bank assisted in underwriting the event.
Beth Rhoades, BPSF executive director, said she expected around 450 people to attend the fundraiser. After breakfast, she said she believed even more people attended. Rhoades said she estimates the Fiesta Breakfast generated around $12,000 in donations for the group.
Willie Ray Smith Science and Technology Magnate Middle School teacher L’Tunya Bernard and West Brook High School student Erin Tompkins, both BPSF grant winners, attended the Fiesta Breakfast. Bernard has won a total of five grants over five years for innovative teaching programs. The most recent grant provided students with funds for a technical writing and drawing project. For the project, students would construct models of machines, teaching them about math and engineering. Then, they utilize technical writing skills to describe the model and give the instructions to someone else so they may construct the model.
“Kids learn better by doing,” Bernard said. “Technical writing helps them reach a higher cognitive level.”
Bernard said she explained the grant application process to students and helps them when she can. Since she started, 14 of her students have won grants. She said her mother, who is a pre-K teacher at Pietzsch-MacArthur Elementary School, and her niece, Erin Tompkins, have also won grants. Bernard said she was surprised when she heard her niece’s grant proposal.
“I was awarded the Japanese Rosetta Stone (language learning software), levels one, two and three,” Tompkins said. “Since I was in elementary school, I wanted to go to Japan. I want to travel. I want to immerse myself in the culture. I was learning the basics on my own, but it wasn’t enough.”
Tompkins said she and about 40 other students at West Brook who are interested in Japanese culture are in a school group called Anime Manga Creators Club, so-named for the popular Japanese cartoons.
“A lot of people want to learn Japanese, but it’s just not available in the schools here,” Tompkins said.
Rhoades said grant applications have already been submitted for the fall. The winners will be announced in December.