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Celebrating 25 years of Excellence in Education

Laura Abbey Brown
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE – Excellence in Education hosted its annual event at the Olympic Village Lodge in Squaw Valley on October 11, 2012. The gathering is an annual celebration of Excellence in Education donors, Fellow and Star Award recipients, and Foundation accomplishments.

This year was particularly sweet as the Foundation marked twenty-five years in the community, while also celebrating Tahoe-Truckee’s recent designation as an All-America City. Tahoe-Truckee received the national All-America City award for a plan to improve grade level literacy in our community.

Over 200 people attended the anniversary celebration representing over two and a half decades of Foundation support. The crowd included educators, parents, business leaders and even a few founding board members. Alder Creek Middle School and North Tahoe High School’s jazz bands treated those in attendance to energetic performances.

At the event Cindy Gustafson, Tahoe City PUD General Manager and original Excellence in Education board member, recalled the initial vision of creating a non-profit organization that would supplement school needs and raise funds through local business efforts.

“It is phenomenal to see how much our business community has contributed to our local schools,” she said. “It has touched students and enriched their opportunities for over twenty-five years.”

The original members of Excellence in Education created the organization as a partnership between business and the community. “Skiing for Schools” was the Foundation’s first fundraiser and launched in the winter of 1991/92. Local ski areas donated lift tickets or a portion of their proceeds from a designated day to the Foundation. Since its inception Skiing for Schools has raised almost two million dollars for the Foundation.

The “Dining for Schools” and “Golfing for Schools” programs were developed in 1993 and 1994 respectively and are still primary fundraising tools for the Foundation.

Many of our local ski areas have been partners with Excellence in Education from the beginning. Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Northstar were original Skiing for Schools participants and continue to support the program today.

Sugar Bowl General Manager, Rob Kautz, recalls conversations designing the Skiing for Schools fundraiser and is pleased with the enduring strength of both the program and the Foundation.

“Northstar is a proud sponsor of Excellence in Education,” stated Northstar’s Marketing Director, Davy Ratchford at the celebration event. “The programs they support have allowed local teachers to continue to be innovative, and have provided incredible results for our youth. We recognize that our annual contributions directly impact students in our community, and we are honored to work hand-in-hand with such a dynamic, impactful organization.”

Jan Ganong, also a founding board member and TTUSD Speech Language Pathologist commented that the Excellence in Education Foundation “has truly become an integral part of our school district.

Teachers look forward each year to the grants, which fund their innovative projects for student learning. I’m proud that our original vision to involve local individuals and businesses in our schools continues stronger than ever.”

It is through the dedication of our local business community and the individuals who repeatedly support our fundraising programs that the Foundation is able to make a positive impact in our schools. The funds raised from these programs go directly to supporting the classrooms and students of our school district.

Excellence in Education has funded over $2.5 million in classroom enhancements and educator awards over its twenty-five year history.

– Laura Abbey Brown is executive director of Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation.


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