This year’s Wellington Schools feature series in Wellington The Magazine was presented in conjunction with the Wellington Community Foundation’s “Our Schools” grant program.
The WCF Board of Directors — including Chair Tom Wenham, Vice Chair Maria Becker, Treasurer Hope Barron, Secretary Jim Sackett, and directors Joanna Boynton, Dr. Gordon Johnson, Barry Manning, James Seder, Pam Tahan and Maggie Zeller — voted unanimously at the start of the year to present this grant to all 11 public schools in Wellington, specifically to be used throughout the “arts departments” in 2022. Wellington The Magazine followed the progress along the way, featuring one of the schools each month throughout 2022, speaking with the principal at each school and learning more about that school.
Wellington Regional Medical Center hosted a special breakfast event for the principals and other Wellington school representatives in January to launch this innovative program. The principals were invited by the Wellington Community Foundation as the recipients of the “Our Schools” grant, through which the foundation supported the fine arts departments at each school.
Although the arts are usually among the first departments in schools to have budgets slashed, Wellington schools still have a robust arts program to offer, and the WCF board wanted to ensure that this grant can help keep that in place.
Johnson added that music, drawing and other artistic activities engage students and give them avenues to use their creativity in ways the academic classrooms do not. Manning agreed. “All of our students need outlets, especially during these challenging times,” he said.
Tahan, who also serves as CEO of Wellington Regional Medical Center, offered to host the special breakfast in the Community Conference Room on the hospital’s campus, and the new annual principal’s breakfast was born.
Tahan and her staff did a wonderful job organizing and preparing the room, the menu, and takeaway gifts for all the principals. The buffet-style breakfast included a made-to-order omelet station with all the fixings, French toast casserole, bacon, sausage, kielbasa, home fries with peppers and onions, fresh fruit, assorted Danishes, and coffee, water and freshly squeeze orange juice.
The principals and other school representatives, along with the foundation board members, including two newly elected board members, Michael Gauger and Donald Gross, were welcomed with opening remarks by WRMC Chief Operating Officer John Mark Atchley, who thanked everyone for taking the time out of their busy schedules and joining in on this breakfast prepared just for them.
Wenham, chair of the foundation, also thanked everyone for coming and thanked the WRMC team for putting on a great event. He went on to thank each of the schools for all that they are doing for the community’s children.
“We know it has been hard,” he said, adding that events like the breakfast serve to further enhance and better the community’s understanding of Wellington’s schools. “Coming together like this is something we should consider doing more often.”
Becker, who recently stepped down as vice chair of the foundation, noted the happy reason for the day’s event.
“Today, we were able to bring together representatives from all of our local schools and award them money that they can now use to help fund a part of the budget that is often overlooked, the arts,” she said. “The arts provide a needed outlet for students at a time when they need it most. I’m excited to see how each school uses the funds to enrich the lives of their students. This morning has been a classic example of what makes our village an amazing community for families with children.”
The foundation’s “Our Schools” grants have been awarded for the past five years with a different concentration of spending, varying from elementary after school programs to middle school requests for laptops to additional tutoring staff to assisting students needing help affording the annual safety patrol trip.
The grants have targeted either elementary schools, middle schools or high schools independently each year. But this year, the board felt it was necessary to fund every Wellington school — and found the budget to do so.
The foundation recently passed a 2023 budget that once again includes funding for all 11 schools. The foundation will work with school principals to identify another area from each school that can utilize the grant dollars to benefit Wellington students.
These projects are only made possible through the hundreds of generous donors, annual sponsors and volunteers that continue to support Wellington’s neighbors through the leadership of the Wellington Community Foundation and its board of directors. It is just one way that the community continues to show up and help its most vulnerable members — children, seniors and veterans.
For additional information about this “Our Schools” grant project, and other foundation projects, visit www.wellingtoncommunityfoundation.org.