By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Studies have shown the labor market is in dire need of people educated in science, technology, engineering and math.
STEM occupations have grown 8 percent in the past 10 years and are expected to grow by 17 percent in the next 10 years. Workers with STEM educations earn 26 percent more than non-STEM workers.
Those issues are being addressed by the Stillwater Public Education Foundation, which rolled out the new fundraising effort Tuesday night at the 12th annual SPEF Gala at the ConocoPhillips OSU Alumni Center.
The organization officially launched its Tech-to-Teach campaign, a fundraising effort to raise $50,000 to equip every classroom in the district with projectors, document cameras and other STEM-related instructional tools. The Foundation announced it will jump start the campaign with a $25,000 contribution.
“SPEF’s commitment to support public education in a variety of ways is a difference maker for many students in our system,” Superintendent Ann Caine said. “Education today requires that we keep up with the latest in technological advances. Technology changes so quickly that it is difficult for public school systems to keep up. The Tech-to-Teach campaign will help us not only keep up with today’s technological advances, but will hopefully help us get ahead in many areas.”
The fundraising campaign, which will conclude Dec. 31, does not replace funding for dozens of grants allocated each year to teachers. SPEF awarded approximately $20,000 in grant funding and programming to SPS classrooms last school year.
“Traditionally SPEF has concentrated on funding teacher grants, which are extremely valuable, but have a more narrow focus,” said Jenifer Bartley, SPEF executive director. “These smaller grants usually impact one classroom or subject at a specific school site. While SPEF will continue to accept teacher grant applications, the Tech to Teach campaign will have a broader, more districtwide reach with our dollars.”
Bartley said the foundation will launch additional Tech to Teach fundraising campaigns in the future to augment growing and changing classroom technology needs.
Tuesday night at the gala, Stillwater High School math teacher Mark Thomas demonstrated how he uses a document camera for classroom instruction.
The fundraising effort is off to a good start. A live auction of a basketball autographed by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, donated by BancFirst, netted $1,000 at the gala. Pledges from audience members netted another $3,000.
“We hope that the Tech to Teach campaign will be supported strongly by the community. SPEF is providing a substantial start for the campaign and we hope others will connect with the campaign and provide significant support as well,” said Julane Whipple, president of the SPEF board of trustees. “This project gives all SPS students the same advantages regardless of school site or classroom. It also allows each teacher the ability to build upon a common technology platform.”
Donors wishing to contribute to the campaign can mail checks payable to Stillwater Public Education Foundation, P.O. Box 286, Stillwater, 74076. For more information about SPEF, go to www.spef.stillwaterschools.com. Contact Bartley at 405-707-5006 or via email at email@example.com.
“We hope that Stillwater residents will financially support the efforts of the Tech to Teach campaign and that we will quickly reach our $50,000 goal,” Bartley said. “SPEF is a charitable organization and only exists to support the Stillwater school system. Any contributions made to SPEF for the campaign are tax-deductible which is not the reason to give but does provide additional incentive.”