BPSF breakfast raises money for creative classroom projects

Sal Guerrero and Bob Wortham

The Beaumont Public Schools Foundation held its annual Fiesta Breakfast at Casa Olé in the Target Shopping Center on Tuesday, Oct. 24, and, thanks to support from the community, met its fundraising goal of $20,000.

However, with Hurricane Harvey’s impact resonating throughout Southeast Texas, the nonprofit still needs donations to provide students and teachers with as many opportunities as in previous years to win grants for creative classroom projects meant to enhance the learning experiences of Beaumont ISD students. According to BPSF Executive Director Beth Rhoades, a few donors who usually give to the foundation instead donated to hurricane recovery efforts, another worthy cause.

“With all that’s going on, sales were a little down this year,” Rhoades explained. “Some sponsors contributed to hurricane victims, and we need to get the community back on its feet, so that is admirable.”

BPSF Board President Bill Smith said he was happily surprised that attendance was as good as it was this year.

“I was very encouraged,” said Smith. “Harvey had a widespread effect on this community.”

The Fiesta Breakfast is BPSF’s largest fundraiser, and the proceeds allow the organization to fund grants distributed around BISD twice a year during fall and spring grant caravans, surprising students and teachers by showing up on campuses to disburse prizes. Teachers and students write grants and submit the applications to BPSF, often requesting reading material, equipment for special creative projects, seeds and fertilizer for plants, and much more. For Spring 2017, members of the foundation visited nine Beaumont ISD campuses and distributed 11 grants amounting to nearly $12,000 in supplies.

Among the many winners this past spring, four female middle-schoolers received a grant to benefit students interested in robotics and engineering. Madison Hathaway, Kayleigh Threlkhold, Taylor Dru Lindsey and Lacee Hadnot won a grant that provided Marshall Middle School’s Robotics Club with new LEGO robot-building kits, the EV3 Mindstorm Education Base kits.

Another spring grant recipient, Curtis Elementary School teacher Paige Grisanti, “hatched” a plan to apply for grant funds that will the school to purchase fertilized eggs and monitoring equipment for second-grade students so the group can watch the eggs’ progress and raise baby chicks from birth. For 21 days, students would become surrogate parents for the eggs and share their experiences with the entire campus. They will also use scientific methods like forming a hypothesis, observation and predicting the outcome.

Since its establishment in 1993, BPSF has distributed grants totaling $261,220 to 374 awardees at Beaumont ISD.

BPSF also administers two memorial scholarships: the Joan Nathan Gross Graphic Arts Scholarship, and the John Hodges Memorial Scholarship. Over the years, the nonprofit organization has given 101 scholarships amounting to $66,500.

The foundation accepts donations throughout the year, and Rhoades invites interested stakeholders to join her and other supporters on upcoming caravans.

Call (409) 617-5134 to donate or join BPSF on a caravan ride to see the smiling faces of teachers who make learning fun and students who love to learn.