Watauga Education Foundation

BOONE — The Watauga Education Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary with $30,000 for grants and scholarships thanks to its sponsors and fundraising events. On Monday, Sept. 23, its grant cycle will be ending in preparation for the grant announcements.

Classroom grants up to $2,000 are awarded annually to teachers for the development of innovative teaching programs for the classroom. All faculty members of Watauga County Schools, including certified teachers, principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, social workers, media specialists and after school site directors in grades PreK-12 are eligible to apply.

The application process involves writing a proposal that will state what the project will be addressing, a description of the project, what specific goals are trying to be reached and how students will benefit from this project. The deadline to apply is Sept. 23, and the application can be found at wataugaeducationfoundation.org. Questions can be directed to Allocations Chair Erika Hudspeth at erika.hudspeth@gmail.com.

Wendy Jessen, a retired school teacher in Watauga County, has worked with WEF for six years and is particularly fond of the “creative projects” that WEF proposes. Jessen is passionate about bringing creative tools to the classroom, such as music instruments and a parachute for P.E. classes, and as a former teacher for the gifted and talented she serves on the allocation committee.

Jessen said she looks forward to reading the submitted grant applications.

“It is so exciting to see the good things going on in our school system and how many teachers reach out to us for grants,” she said. “They go beyond the job description — as if they don’t have enough on their plate.” The grants will be awarded during the first week of October.

In addition to grants, the foundation also awards scholarships. The Prince-Deverick Scholarships are awarded annually to local educators for professional development to assist them as they strive for excellence. The Kate Swift Reese Scholarship is awarded annually to a civic-minded Watauga High School student who is a first-generation college-bound student.

The two fundraising events responsible for the Watauga Education Foundation’s success are the Flapjack Flip and Shooting Stars, which are hosted annually.

Flapjack Flip is a community pancake breakfast featuring holiday music from the high school band, orchestra and chorus on Dec. 7 at Watauga High School. Also at the event will be a Holiday Market sponsored by the Boone Service League.

Shooting Stars is a visual and performing arts showcase talent show at the Schaefer Center on April 24, 2020. Winners of the visual arts will be on display during the month of April at the Jones House.

Jessen, the historian for WEF, explained that “each school (in the county) has auditions, and after those that are selected to continue, another set of auditions take place.”

The Watauga Education Foundation is a nonprofit that was established in 1989, when the county determined that there was a shortage of textbooks in public schools. The foundation is made up of a diligent board of volunteers. The Watauga Education Foundation has a goal to support educators who foster a love of learning and sponsor community-oriented events that sustain students’ wonder, enthusiasm and perseverance.

Their mission statement reads, “to enrich student learning for all Watauga County public school students by effectively promoting innovative educational experiences for children that inspire every student to achieve his or her highest potential.”

For more information about the Watauga Education Foundation, call (828) 264-7190 or visit wataugaeducationfoundation.org.

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