What's Your Why?
Everybody has a different reason to give. What's Your Why? The Lawrence Schools Foundation is involved in numerous ways to give to the students, teachers and staff of the Lawrence Public Schools. Our donors contribute in so many different ways. We are involved in programs like Early Childhood, Teacher and School Assistance Grants, Student Scholarships, Staff Development and Awards. We have donors who contribute to, or create Special Funds which provide wonderful experiences for our students.
We raise money to support our schools by hosting events such as the annual Community Education Breakfast and Foundation Follies. We have partnered with many different community groups for fund-raising activities and events which showcase the excellence of our students. Our LEAP program connects local businesses to schools and fosters wonderful relationships that are beneficial to both parties.
Theses are just a few examples of what our community is able to provide to our schools by working with the Lawrence Schools Foundation. Everbody has a different reason to give. What's your Why?
Watch our video to see why members of our community are involved with the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
Jordan Rose, Chemistry Teacher, Free State High School
Recipient of the $10,000 Bobs Award in 2014
"To have somebody nominate you and recognize that you are working hard, I think is even more meaningful, because I don’t know that it is always super evident to your colleagues because we are all so caught up in our own classes and our own world, so it is very exciting when you get any kind of note or card or recognition from someone."
Tammy Becker, Principal, Hillcrest Elementary
On why her staff nominate each other for awards and apply for grants through the Lawrence Schools Foundation: "When you get an award, that is a boost. Other staff congratulate and support each other. Often our grants have gone beyond just who wrote the grant. It benefits all teachers, so that is a huge morale booster. (The Foundation) is a place where our community can invest dollars in the future generation. I think we are very fortunate in this district to have a Foundation that has so much support from the community. It is investing in that future. It is building opportunities for our kids that will probably be the next generation in Lawrence."
Sylvia Trevino-Maack, Lawrence High School Psychologist
"I want to build connections with kids to make sure the kids know they have people who care about them and that they are important. It is not just academics that are important and it is not just making a grade, but that they as individuals have something to contribute to our schools. I want to make sure they have a positive experience while in high school. High school can be very challenging. It can be the most amazing, incredible thing to happen to a kid, or the worst, depending on their circumstances. I want to make sure that I am here to build as many connections and relationships with kids as possible."
Jane Imber, Retired School Librarian
Jane Imber spent her working career educating children as an elementary school librarian. Even after retiring, Imber is still making a difference in our schools through her efforts with the Lawrence Schools Foundation
Imber contributes not only financially to the Lawrence School Foundation, but passionately donates her time and expertise to the organization.
The New York native worked in schools in New York and California before serving as school librarian for eight years at Broken Arrow and 18 years at Quail Run before retiring in 2006. For the last decade Imber has spent time each spring reviewing senior scholarship applications as a member of the Foundation Scholarship Committee.
“I love reading the applications and being reminded of the variety of students passing through the doors of Lawrence Public Schools,” she said. “I am in awe of the teachers they work with, of the experiences that stand out for them, and especially of their dreams for the future.”
Imber and her husband Mickey have been long-time donors to the Foundation, while also supporting the Foundation’s events.
“When I retired from Lawrence Public Schools in 2006, it was clear there were many challenges ahead for public education,” Imber said. “I feel it’s important to support students, teachers and staff in Lawrence if we are to move forward in a changing world. I am a product of public education and come from a family of public school educators. I believe public education is the cornerstone of democracy.”
Imber said that being an employee of the district, she was able to see the effect of the Foundation’s work.
“I saw first-hand how the Foundation could give a helping hand to school projects, staff development and the “extras” that help students learn and make teachers feel valued and recognized,” Imber said. “When I retired it was clear to me that this was a way I could give back to a school district that supported me professionally and gave my own children a strong education.”
The importance of education was instilled in Imber at an early age and led her down her career path.
“Probably growing up in a family that valued education was what mattered most,” Imber said. “My father was a high school English teacher and my mother was a middle school guidance counselor. We always had books in our house. When I was in college I discovered I could combine my own love of reading, my pleasure in being with children, and my interest in education by becoming a school librarian.”
Imber is very active in the community volunteering with Small World, a program that teaches English to international women living in Lawrence, volunteering with Friends of the Lawrence Public Library and serving on the Friends Council of the Hall Center. She also enjoys time with her grandchildren, travel, hiking, outdoor activities, reading and book clubs.
Joan and Web Golden, Community Members
Joan and Web Golden don’t just work at businesses that support the Lawrence Schools Foundation. They make sure to contribute to the success of Lawrence Public School students through personal giving as well.
Joan is a senior vice president at U.S. Bank, while Web is an attorney at Stevens & Brand. Both of those businesses have sponsored the Foundation’s Breakfast and Follies events for years and both have provided long-time assistance to the schools via their LEAP partnerships.
“As an employee of U.S. Bank, I am proud that we have been involved with the LEAP program from the beginning; collaborating with the Lied Center and the school district to bring in authors and illustrators to teach children the steps in creating a finished product,” Joan said. “Learning the soft skills that come from literacy and participating in music and art, are important to employers.”
The Golden’s appreciation of the arts is evidenced in their individual support. They are involved in the annual fund-raising dinner collaboration between the Foundation and Lied Center, which provides arts access for all students in Lawrence Public Schools.
“We have three passions: children, the arts and public education,” Joan said. “There is a certain joy that one experiences during a live production, or having a practicing artist come to the classroom and that might be the spark that changes the direction of that child’s life. Public education needs the funding the Lawrence Schools Foundation provides that can continue to provide ‘that spark’.”
The Goldens grew up in Iola, Kan. and said their public school system emphasized music and arts. They added that their children received a well-rounded education in USD 497 and their family is proud to be active members of the Lawrence community.
“This is a generous community that recognizes the value of a public education system and the work of the Lawrence Schools Foundation demonstrates that,” Joan said.
Rosy Elmore, Donor, Scholarship Provider, Former Board Member
Rosy Elmore devoted 12 years of service to the Lawrence Schools Foundation as a member of the organization’s board of directors through 2013. She and her husband John continue to be avid supporters of the Foundation, sponsoring tables at both the Community Education Breakfast and Foundation Follies on an annual basis. Their dedication to Lawrence Public Schools is amazing.
If that wasn’t enough, last year the family established the Elmore Family Scholarship through the Foundation. Their generous renewable scholarship provides $5,000 per year to two seniors graduating from Lawrence High School each spring.
“John and I feel very strongly about giving back,” Rosy said. “One of the best ways is to help kids get an education. We wanted our scholarship to be an amount that would be meaningful to the recipients. This was a family decision with our children giving much input.”
Rosy’s appreciation of education came from several sources. Her parents were both teachers. Her father taught chemistry and physics at Kennett (Mo.) High School, while her mother taught home economics in junior high after teaching fourth grade for many years.
Not only did she have that influence at home, but she lived in a community which supported graduating seniors.
“My small hometown (Kennett, Mo.) gives away an amazing amount of scholarships for a town of its size,” Rosy said. “I was the recipient of several scholarships. My parents sacrificed a lot so that their children would be able to attend college without debt. My sister went on to medical school and my brother and I both graduated college with very little debt.”
The Elmore Family Scholarship will make a big impact on recipients who will hopefully be able to leave college with little debt as well.
Carladyne Knox Conyers, Community Member
As the daughters of a public school superintendent and a teacher, Carladyne Knox Conyers and her sister Nancy didn’t always have the typical dinner time conversations most kids might have with their parents.
“Around our dinner table, we would discuss bond issue information and different school issues,” she recalled. “We were taught the importance and value of family and good education.”
Carladyne’s father, Carl Knox, served as Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent for 22 years from 1962-84 after stints in Baldwin, Eureka and Olathe. Her mother Dorothy was a teacher. Today the Lawrence Schools Foundation is proud to be a part of the Carl Knox Development Grant, which provides developmental opportunities for teachers in the Lawrence Public Schools.
“Daddy was a strong advocate and had the utmost support for teachers and staff,” Carladyne explained. “He was also very supportive of the extra curriculum activities to teach and educate children on important life skills.”
With that type of influence in her life, Carladyne has been active with the Lawrence Schools Foundation, supporting its events and participating in scholarship selection for graduating seniors each spring.
“I enjoy and feel proud helping support the Foundation every way I can,” Carladyne said. “The school district was very important to our dad. Because of the cuts in education, funding is important now, more than ever for the Lawrence Schools Foundation to thrive.”
Stan Roth, Retired Teacher and Scholarship Donor
Do you want to know if teachers make a difference? Do you want to know if Stan Roth made an impact in his 40 years of teaching high school biology in Lawrence? How about on the night of his retirement celebration in 1999 more than $32,000 was collected to initiate an annual Stan Roth Science scholarship for graduating seniors in Lawrence Public Schools.
Roth reached so many students, who either entered the science fields or just learned to appreciate nature or learned lessons on how to work hard to succeed in life. He gave his life to teaching biology and he and his wife Janet now personally add donations to the scholarship named in his honor to reward students who plan on continuing to study science in college.
“We realize the amount of money that is needed for young persons to receive post-high school educations,” Stan said of the two $2,000 scholarships given annually. “Therefore we have chosen to add additional resources to help those deserving students who wish to continue their education. Parents and students who have received the science scholarship have been most appreciative and we recognize the importance of continuing what was begun by the original donors.”
The Roths know the importance of motivating young people to focus on science-based careers.
“Our country needs good scientists and science teachers more now than ever before,” he said. “If we can encourage those students who have demonstrated an interest in spending their lives in pursuing interests in natural and applied science, we wish to help them with their educational goals.”
The Roths appreciate the work of the Foundation and are happy to be a part of contributing to the organization.
“The Foundation is important because it informs the community of the worth and value of their schools,” Roth said. “Also, the Foundation is able to recognize and reward teachers in addition to providing recognition and much needed scholarships for students. It provides incentives for professional success.
“Our Lawrence schools have been and continue to provide an outstanding example of teaching and learning in the Midwest,” he said.
Community Partner - Lied Center of Kansas, Derek Kwan, Executive Director
One of the incredible partnerships the Lawrence Schools Foundation is privileged to have is with the Lied Center of Kansas. Since 1993 the Lied Center has produced free school-only performances. For years these performances were just for elementary-aged children, but thanks to a combined fund-raising effort, our secondary students have the opportunity to see a Lied Center performance each year as well.
“At the Lied Center, we believe the arts are essential to the human experience,” said Executive Director Derek Kwan. “Consistent, barrier-free access to the arts for school-age children results in increased creativity which leads to innovation that propels society forward in a positive way. We are ecstatic to be able to provide world-class, age-specific performing arts experiences for every single student in Lawrence Public Schools.”
The Lied Center also partners with the Foundation and Lawrence Public Schools for third-grade theatre arts day and the Ovation! Talent Show. For one night each year though, supporters have the opportunity to take the stage – well at least take part in a fund-raising dinner co-hosted with the Foundation and held on the Lied Center stage, which features interaction with one of the groups performing for the students.
“The Lawrence Schools Foundation plays a vital role in our community by enriching the educational experience for all USD 497 students,” Kwan said. “The Lied Center is so grateful to the Foundation for recognizing that Lawrence values barrier-free access to the performing arts. We would not have been able to expand our free school programming to middle and high school without the support of the Foundation.”
Mary Chapman, Retired Teacher
When Mary Chapman retired after 21 years of teaching in the Lawrence Public Schools (and three other Kansas school districts before that), she didn’t retire from helping kids. The former English teacher has been an active volunteer for the Lawrence Schools Foundation, supporting the organization’s events and programs.
One aspect of her support has been her service on the Foundation’s scholarship committee for nearly a dozen years. The Foundation houses almost 70 scholarships set up by donors for graduating seniors at Lawrence High and Free State High School. In that role, she reads through numerous student applications for several of the scholarships, working diligently to reward those students who most match the qualifications established by the donors.
“Many of us who serve on the scholarship committee every spring were scholarship students,” Chapman said. “We know the importance of that tangible assistance to graduating seniors. It is wonderful to see how well our graduates do, whether in faraway places or in this community. The work of the Foundation is a solid investment.”
As a former teacher, Chapman appreciates the opportunities the Foundation provides to the district’s educators.
“By assisting dedicated teachers, the Foundation simply helps them to be more successful with every student they reach out to,” she said. “With access to resources, research and further study, teachers not only innovate in meaningful ways, but maintain and defend the high standards and quality Lawrence Public Schools have long been known for.”
School District - Denise Johnson, Assistant Director of Nutrition and Wellness
As the assistant director of nutrition and wellness for the Lawrence Public Schools, Denise Johnson works closely with the Lawrence Schools Foundation to support her initiatives.
Without a budget for some of her initiatives, Johnson counts on the Foundation to provide extra opportunities for enrichment of students and staff.
“The biggest reason I like working with the Lawrence Schools Foundation is their commitment to the well-being of all kids and the well-being of all staff that we have in the district,” Johnson said.
Community Advocate – Hank Booth, KLWN Radio
Hank Booth is a founding board member of the Lawrence Schools Foundation and served the organization for more than 30 years until leaving the board at the end of 2016. The Booth family continues to be active with the Foundation as Hank’s daughter Becca replaced her father on the board.
Booth helped start the Lawrence Schools Foundation to create an early education program with the goal of having all children start kindergarten ready to learn. His granddaughter was an early participant in the program and benefited greatly from those opportunities.
What is Booth’s why? “It’s all about the kids,” he said. “We don’t do anything in our lives more important than make sure our kids have an opportunity to succeed.”
You can hear Booth weekday mornings from 8-9 on According to the Record on KLWN, AM 1320.
School Principal - Dr. Keith Jones, South Middle School
Dr. Keith Jones is in his first year as principal at South Middle School, but he was an assistant principal at Free State High School from 2013-15. While at Free State, he was very involved in the Lawrence Schools Foundation’s LEAP program. The program is designed to create and build community partnerships that support and enhance student achievement and success in the Lawrence Public Schools.
Providing these additional opportunities to his students is a priority for Jones.
“Sometimes the perception gets lost because we have a pretty nice school and our kids are doing well academically that we don’t have needs, but that is just not true,” he said. “That LEAP partnership bridges that gap in my budget and our partners step up to the plate and provide resources and provide things that I don’t have to take out of my budget.”
The exposure to businesses and the people working in the community are a huge benefit to his students. The community also gets to see the future in connecting with the students Jones said.
“My why is to build community partners so our community can know the great things we are doing in our school,” he said. “It is beneficial for our students to go to their places of business and also for them to come to our school. Our kids need to see people who look like them, doing the jobs that they will one day be doing.”
Lawrence Schools Foundation Board Member - Martin Moore
Marty Moore is a longtime Lawrence Schools Foundation board member and takes great pride in the wide-raninging ways the Foundation helps the Lawrence Public Schools.
"We do a lot of things from the bare necessities all the way up to augmenting AP classes," he said. "We are helping the early childhood education program, we are helping at the college and career center, we are doing teacher awards so that we are recognizing educators and staff and people, who a lot of times aren’t recognized."
And that is where Moore's passion lies. His why is for highlighting the district's teachers and what they mean, not only to their students, but in the community.
"I think we need to award our educators," he said. "We have to thank them for what they are doing for our kids and for everybody and I don’t think they get enough (thanks)."
LEAP Partnerships - Nancy O'Connor, The Merc Co-op
With an emphasis on providing fresh, locally-grown produce to students, school garden programs and Farm 2 School programs have become very important in the Lawrence Public Schools. School gardens have become, not only a food source in our schools, but have provided outdoor classrooms for our students.
"The Merc, and the Community Mercantile Education Foundation, are an indispensable partner for our Farm 2 School program," said Jennie Lazarus, Outdoor Education Coordinator of Lawrence Public Schools. "As the first school garden in the district, CMEF was, and continues to be a model on which we base many of our programming components. Nancy and her team continually go above and beyond to ensure students and staff have access to fresh, local foods and to provide exceptional educational opportunities for the students of West Middle School.
Nancy O'Connor, Director of Education and Outreach at The Merc Co-op is proud of the relationships established between businesses and the school district.
"What makes schools great schools are the partnerships, which are essential," she said.
Scholarships - South Middle School Teacher/Coach, Jay Deiser, Provides Scholarship Opportunities
As a middle school teacher and coach Jay Deiser has a daily impact on the lives of many students at South Middle School. His influence stretches beyond the gym and he maintains his reach by offering three scholarships to former South students headed to college each year.
Started by Deiser in 2014 and named in honor of family members, the Jay Deiser (grandfather), Leona Deiser (grandmother) and Pete Deiser (father) scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors at Lawrence High School each spring. Each of the scholarships are $1,000.
“Everything I have I owe to them,” Deiser said of his grandparents and father. “Providing the scholarships in their honor and memory was a no-brainer for me as I wouldn’t have the financial means to do so without them.”
Grants - Hanzlik Hands On Academy Provides Different Learning Opportunity
Thanks to a special Lawrence Schools Foundation grant which provides opportunities for hands-on experiences, fourth-graders at Hillcrest Elementary were able to turn their classroom knowledge into active work this past spring.
After learning about renewable energy in school, students were then bussed to the Lawrence College and Career Center for three days to apply their knowledge to design models that would harness renewable resources, such as wind energy, water energy and solar energy, and convert those into electrical energy.
This opportunity was made possible by the generosity of Robert and Lois Hanzlik, who established an annual Hanzlik Hands On Academy Teacher Grant with the Lawrence Schools Foundation in the summer of 2016. The grants are made available in the fall to all Lawrence Public Schools elementary teachers.
“My background as a kid and through high school was full of tools, projects and shop classes,” Robert Hanzlik said. “I loved them all and they benefitted me throughout my adult life. However, as a university professor, I also know full well that college is not for everyone. I wanted to encourage an alternative, to do something to help some students get hooked on tools and materials, and on building or repairing things, early enough to encourage them to head in this direction with enthusiasm and confidence in their future.”
Scholarships - Spencer Chestnut Receives, Then Gives Back
In 2010, then Free State High School senior Spencer Chestnut, received the Brian Shirk Memorial Scholarship, which is managed by the Lawrence Schools Foundation. The $500 award did more than just help buy books and offset fees in college. The gift went much deeper.
The Shirk Scholarship was established by Brian’s parents David and Karen. Brian was a three-sport athlete who graduated from Free State in 2000. Unfortunately he was killed in a car accident in 2003 at the age of 22. The Shirks handed out the first scholarship in their son’s memory to Nick Green in 2004.
“My biggest thing was that I hoped the scholarship money would get them started,” David said. “It gave them a little something to start with and it showed that people care about them.”
Fast forward six years from the time Chestnut received the scholarship and the impact of the award was confirmed when Chestnut, now a process scientist at Elanco Animal Health, decided to establish an annual scholarship for a Free State student interested in pursuing a degree in one of the STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – fields.
Special Funds - Davidson Debate Fund An "Invaluable Partner"
There are many different special funds managed by the Lawrence Schools Foundation with many different purposes. Donors have established and contributed to accounts in areas such as music, AP testing, math and science, visual arts, computer science, school gardens, and marathon clubs among others.
These funds provide additional opportunities outside of the regular curriculum for Lawrence Public Schools students. Because of the generosity of donors to the Foundation, our students get to see live performances at the KU Lied Center, take music lessons, get help to pay for college admission tests, receive school supplies, and/or be a part of the robotics team, among other opportunities.
One of those other funds is the Davidson Debate Fund, which was started by Lawrence High School graduate John Davidson III in 2004. These monies have helped defray or cover any fees or travel expenses for high school students on the debate and forensic teams when they qualify for competitions.
Grants - MusicWorks! Grants Enhance, Enrich and Expand Music Education To Students
Dr. Bob and Katherine Dinsdale know the effect music education has on individuals. There is research which shows students who participate in music typically produce better math and reading scores. When the funding of music programs started to become an afterthought in the schools, the community, with the Dinsdales’ leadership, became involved and established a music fund through the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
Each year music teachers can apply for a MusicWorks! Grant, which provides funds they need to enhance access to, enrich the quality of, and expand the educational experiences of their students.
“Music education must be available to everyone,” Dr. Dinsdale said. “It helps young brains learn. It fosters community and teamwork in our schools. It exposes students to different ways of expressing themselves, other cultures, and other languages. Lawrence has an incredible array of music educators and talented students and we need to treasure and support them. It will benefit all students.”
Kirsten Wondra, the district’s assistant director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, appreciates the community support.
“Music has transitioned in importance throughout the years, especially since it is so rarely tied to funding streams and standardized testing,” she said. “However, Lawrence has embraced a proud tradition of support for music and the arts and it continues to hold a place in the overall educational program.”
Grants - Innovative Teaching Grants Are Passion Of Former Classmates
Srinija Srinivasan and Angela Filo (formerly Buenning) were the best of friends growing up in Lawrence where they attended Lawrence Public Schools and graduated from LHS in 1989. Their lives were intertwined at every stage, as they attended each other’s birthday parties and had sleepovers in elementary school. They played volleyball and basketball together at West Middle School. At Lawrence High they were both on the volleyball team, Latin Club, student government, homecoming court and were locker partners.
After leaving Lawrence, they both ended up at Stanford University where they were roommates as seniors. Today they both reside in Palo Alto, Calif. less than two miles apart, serve on the Stanford Board of Trustees together and remain “like sisters.”
The life-long friends share a number of common interests, including ethnic food, jazz music, and cultural events. And despite living 1,800 miles away from their childhood homes, they also share the same interest in making a difference in the lives of Lawrence Public Schools students, as both are donors to the Lawrence Schools Foundation.
When Srinivasan was involved in a fellowship through the Aspen Institute she was charged with starting a broadly defined community project. She wondered how she could make a contribution to the place that meant so much to her and gave her so much.
Lawrence Schools Foundation Board Member - Scott Morgan
As a community member Scott Morgan has been highly involved in education in the Lawrence Public Schools. He served two terms on the Lawrence Public Schools Board of Education and has been a member of the Lawrence Schools Foundation since 2013. He has a great passion and committment to serving the schools.
"As a community we want to help all these kids get ready, because we are just so much better when we are all involved in their education," he said.
More To Come...