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Vision for education

Superintendent of Schools Joel Aune, left, and Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation President Carmen Villanueva, right, flank the 2012 Educators of the Year, Elizabeth Cronin, Tina Longwell, Jenny Foster, and Dave Bettine.   - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo
Superintendent of Schools Joel Aune, left, and Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation President Carmen Villanueva, right, flank the 2012 Educators of the Year, Elizabeth Cronin, Tina Longwell, Jenny Foster, and Dave Bettine.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

New partners, new programs, and the tale of a 1920s movie dog were highlighted at the Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation's annual fundraising luncheon Thursday, March 22.

The dog, Rin Tin Tin, was the metaphor that that keynote speaker Sandi Everlove used to illustrate the principles of, and need for, science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM)-based learning in Washington. From his rescue as a puppy in 1922 Germany and his rise to stardom, to his impact on the relationships between people and their dogs today, Rin Tin Tin, Everlove says, represents STEM's path from conception to implementation in increasing numbers of classrooms.

Washington STEM (www.washingtonstem.org), where Everlove serves as the Chief Learning Officer and interim CEO, has awarded nearly $3 million in funding for STEM programs, reaching nearly 16,000 students since its creation in March 2011, Everlove said. The organization hopes to make that number $100 million within 10 years, in part, because it has to.

"We are literally a STEM-fueled state," said Everlove, with fully 80 percent of today's jobs in Washington today requiring STEM skills. That trend will continue, she notes.

"It's only going to get better if you're a STEM person," Everlove said.

She commended the Snoqualmie Valley School District for the STEM work it's already done, highlighted in a video showing some of the foundation-funded school projects of the past year, and gave examples of other teachers throughout the state doing similar work. A third grade teacher in Pasco, Wash., set out to discover why her students hated doing math – an informal survey revealed that most of them would prefer taking out the trash to doing their math homework, Everlove said. Using video cameras and other technology, she was able to spark her students' interest in math, so much so that they have now created videos teaching other students, and teachers, how to do algebra.

"You are already the visionaries," she told the audience, then encouraged them to hold another vision in their minds, of a student being truly engaged at school by what she's learning, because of the opportunities they provided her.

More than 200 people attended the event, which raised more than $80,000 for school projects. Foundation President Carmen Villanueva was happy to announce that 85 corporate sponsors are supporting the foundation this year, including 33 new to the foundation this year. Among the new sponsors, the Snoqualmie Tribe was specifically recognized for its contribution, as was ongoing sponsor Microsoft, which was instrumental in introducing computer science classes to the high school next year.
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