By Melinda Byrne
NHS ESOL Teacher
In 2001 a group of parents and community members formed the Foundation for Excellence to support Norcross High School. For over a decade, the Foundation has received donations from hundreds of families, corporations, and other organizations to help fund programs that directly impact teaching and learning. The Foundation’s generous contributions, totaling close to one million dollars, have had a profound effect on the entire school as well as the Norcross community.
Academically, the Foundation for Excellence has generously and consistently supported teachers and students. To illustrate, at the onset of each school year, the Foundation provides teachers with classroom supplies, helping to offset teachers’ out of pocket expenses, and the Foundation annually offers teacher scholarships to staff members who are pursuing graduate degrees. Many classrooms have benefitted from the donation of PowerPoint remote clickers, interactive whiteboards, and Greenfoot gaming that helps students learn JAVA in order to make programming more interesting. Shawn Wilson, Social Studies teacher, thinks that these contributions make classes more engaging, as the implementation of these materials increases student understanding and allows teachers to assess learning and shortcomings on the spot. I have personally seen the benefit of the Foundation’s generosity when public bus passes were donated for student use. Many of my students without transportation were given bus passes if they utilized after school tutoring opportunities. These students would not have the option to stay after school without a means of transport.
In the Arts department, the Foundation has provided sheet music for spring concerts as well as costly orchestra instruments. Martha Cook, Visual Arts teacher said, “I don’t know how 3D Design, Sculpture, or AP 3-D Design ever survived without the table belt sander that the Foundation bought for us. We use it so much! It has helped sand the rough edges off so many sculptures and helped in the construction of more projects than you can imagine. It is so much more than a time saver; it has been an integral tool in the creation of many beautiful and award winning pieces of art.” According to Theater Director Gina Parrish, “Because of the generosity of the NHS Foundation, I have been able to involve more students in productions who would not have been able to participate, and we have been fortunate enough to upgrade our facility’s light and sound equipment. Their support has made the difference between this being a simply good high school facility and an outstanding facility and department.”
In the same vein, the Foundation has helped the school at large in contributions of athletic equipment for basketball and field maintenance for baseball. The Foundation has also funded After School Matters, a year-long extracurricular program to help at-risk students. At Christmas, the Foundation magnanimously sent gift cards to the Care Team to provide financial support for homeless families, and last month, in the school beautification effort, the Foundation installed an outdoor flagpole plaza for student use.
The Foundation’s ongoing benevolence allows Norcross to do things other schools only dream of doing. The Foundation validates our community, supports teaching and learning, and makes us proud to be on the Norcross team. To say that we are grateful is an understatement. We are extremely fortunate at Norcross to be supported by a group of parents and community members who have an unbridled focus on improving our school and directly impacting students.
To support this mission, the Foundation of Excellence will host the 2013 Gala VIII on April 26th at the Fields Club. The Gala is the soiree of the season for the entire Norcross community and the premier fundraising event of the year. On behalf of the Norcross teachers and the Foundation board members, thank you for your support, and we hope to see you on the 26th! Find additional information about the 2013 Gala VIII and purchase tickets here: http://www.norcrosshighfoundation.org/gala.html.