January 21, 2005
Ed McMahon was the only thing missing Thursday as the Gilbert Education Foundation traveled to 18 schools to give out about $10,000 in "prize money."
Calling themselves the "prize patrol," foundation members fanned out across the Gilbert Unified School District, to pass out checks for exercise videos and swords used in Civil War reenactments. Founded in 2001, the nonprofit foundation raises money for district classrooms and provides scholarship money for East Valley students.
The first stop Thursday was Houston Elementary School, where 4-year-old Taylor John’s eyes just about popped out of his head when his speech teacher Debbie Westberg was handed a fistful of balloons and a $900 check. Westberg said she’ll use the money to fund a lending library for parents of autistic preschoolers.
At Pioneer Elementary School, fifth-grade teachers Gina Kelly and Kris Acton were asked to come outside with their 50 students.
They erupted in applause as Kelly and Acton were each handed $500 checks to fund a classroom library of nonfiction books.
Acton said she and Kelly were interested in buying the books for their classrooms because they help students develop critical reading skills necessary to master Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards test.
Foundation member Rhonda Perez said the 12-member board hosts a fall golf tournament and a spring dinner called School House Rocks to raise the funds.
• Highland Junior High School’s etiquette class for grades seven and eight; $1,000
• Neely Traditional Academy’s reading program for kindergartners; $500
• Houston Elementary School’s adaptive library loan for parents of preschoolers with special needs; $900
• Gilbert Elementary School’s language enrichment program for grades four and five; $300
• Houston Elementary School’s after-school fitness club for girls in grades five and six; $500