Photo provided by Lisa ArnoldPhoto by Lisa ArnoldPhoto by Lisa Arnold

Generosity for the school district set a tone for 2018

As the teachers sat in the opening day session, their would thoughts were probably on the upcoming first day of school, the students that would be coming into their classroom and what they had left to do to get ready for those students.

After Board of Education member Karen Delaney representing the Education Foundation was done with her announcement, the focus had flipped as she told each teacher that an anonymous donor had provided funds to give each of them $100 for their use.

A long-time teacher at PCHS, Julie Hart, said at the time, “I was overwhelmed with emotion that the donor would want to give $100 to all the teachers to inspire us and help us get ready for the upcoming school year.”

The positivity grew out of the negativity of the previous spring and the rancor in Frankfort over pensions and educational funding.

“There was encouragement from the many who stood in support of teachers and public education. One of those people was stirred by the hateful rhetoric. She has a high regard for education, a product of public institutions and she has a connection to Pendleton County Schools as her children attended our schools from Kindergarten to Commencement,” Delaney told the assemblage of teachers.

She continued, “She is not a teacher but is aware of the level of education it takes to be a teacher, the time beyond the school day and work in the summer that is unseen, the personal money to create a classroom that is welcoming and to provide basic supplies for learning that are not covered in budgets or available in each child’s home.”

As a result, the Classroom Supplies Fund was created through an anonymous gift.

Michelle Lustenburg posted on her Facebook account that she is #feelingblessed.

“It’s not really about the money. It’s about the appreciation of what we do every year. To whoever did this, I’m sure you already know that making a positive contribution to someone else’s life can be an emotional ‘game changer.’ It is so incredibly important sometimes to know that someone is looking in from the outside and values what we do.”

It was a gift that grew.

Later in the school year, a trailer was donated to PCHS band for use in hauling their equipment.

A $500 gift was given to Northern Elementary to be used for their monthly birthday recognition program.

A generous $4,000 donation was provided by the Pendleton County Educational Foundation to be divided amongst the four schools and used in enhancing access to the curriculum for students with disabilities.

Superintendent of Schools, Joe Buerkley, said, “The vision of Pendleton County Schools is that we are ‘United in Pursuing Excellence,’ and that is never more evident than when we have examples of individuals, businesses, or community organizations making donations to benefit our students.  We are blessed to have this local support and appreciate it greatly.  Our community is truly ‘United in Pursuing Excellence’”.

The story became national news as it was shared amongst the news media, and then People magazine came calling.

“People magazine contacted the school...They sent an email with a request for permission to use the photo,” said Lisa Arnold. She gave them permission, and, as she said, “The rest is history.”