RCS Education Foundation helps students, teachers excel
“We love the kids, and that’s why we do what we can to help them have a better educational experience.”
That one sentence spoken by former educator and current Russellville school board member Judy Pounders summed up the purpose of the Russellville City Schools Education Foundation, a non-profit organization established to raise funding for current and future educational opportunities in the classroom.
The foundation hosted a dinner at Twin Pines County Club on Monday for their friends and supporters in an effort to thank them for believing in what they are trying to do and to raise awareness about the foundation so more people in the community can choose to become supporters as well.
The foundation is not a function of the city school board and the money generated is not used to help pay teacher salaries, benefits or to aid the schools’ athletic programs.
It was set up as a non-profit organization to give supportive and benevolent friends of the Russellville City School System a way to contribute financially to the system with tax-deductible benefits.
Local attorney Shane James, who serves as a member of the foundation’s board of directors, said the money goes to help with things such as classroom supplies, classroom technology and scholarships for deserving seniors.
“I know that there are teachers who repeatedly do things for children in their classrooms who cannot afford things like supplies and money for field trips,” James said.
“They pay for these things out of their own pockets and we hope this foundation can help with some of these expenses so these teachers who work hard for what they make aren’t having to reach into their own pockets to help out their students.”
The foundation was officially established in May of 2012 and was able to present their first cash awards of $50 each to 20 different teachers in the school system this past September.
“That $50 may not seem like much, but to a teacher who is always using his or her own money for different things in their classroom, that money can go a long way,” James said.
Another important part of the foundation is the ability to give scholarships to deserving seniors.
At Monday’s dinner, Pounders announced the Dr. Wayne Ray Scholarship, which was established in Ray’s honor after his retirement from the school system in 2008 following 43 years and an educator, would now be presented through the foundation.
Pounders and Ray awarded the first Dr. Wayne Ray Scholarship given through the foundation to RHS senior Jose Figueroa, who has been a leader in many areas throughout his high school career in spite of the personal struggles he has faced.
Figueroa spoke to the audience at the foundation dinner and told them how much it meant to him to be able to receive that scholarship.
“I am the first one in my family to graduate from high school or finish middle school,” Figueroa said.
“There were times when I thought about just quitting school as soon as I could so I could get a job and help my family, but when I received academic trophies at awards day in middle school and saw how proud it made my mom, I wanted to continue to set goals and make her proud.
“I started from the bottom, made goals and them made them happen. But this isn’t the end for me. I have plenty more goals in my life to achieve. And without you guys and my family, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Russellville Superintendent Rex Mayfield said four more scholarships of $500 each would be given out at the RHS Awards Night in May.
Money generated from the silent auction held at the dinner as well as through generous contributions from community members would go toward those scholarships as well as other students and teacher needs.
Mayfield also unveiled a commissioned drawing of Russellville High School by local artist Doug Allen. A framed print was auctioned off at the dinner and Mayfield said prints would be available for $30 to members of the community with all proceeds benefiting the foundation.
“We have a great community that is very supportive of our schools,” Mayfield said.
“This foundation is a great way to directly support our teachers and students and we think we’ll have great community participation because we know everyone in our area want sto see our students excel.”
Ray concluded the evening by congratulating Figueroa and all those who had supported the foundation since its inception.
“This foundation will certainly go a great way in helping our students,” Ray said.
“The more this foundation grows, the more we can help the students, teachers and their futures.”
The current foundation board members are Chris James, who serves as president; Wayne Ray, vice-president; Kristy Gist, secretary/treasurer; Donna Barksdale, Matt Cooper, Susan Hall, Bettie Hillman, Shane James, Superintendent Rex Mayfield, Judy Pounders, Ramona Robinson, Chris Wallace and Darren Woodruff.
Several levels of giving are in place through the foundation including: Torch Bearer, which is $5,000 per year for five years; Champion, which is $1,000 per year for five years; Tiger, which is $500 per year for five years; Gold, which is $250 per year for five years; Black, which is $100 per year for five years; Cub, which is $25 per year for five years, and Spirit, which is a one time gift.
Honorary and memorial gifts will also be acknowledged. All donations to the foundation are tax deductible.
Donations can be mailed to: Russellville City Schools Education Foundation, P.O. Box 821, Russellville, AL 35653.