By JENNIFER FITCH
5:40 PM EST, November 22, 2012
In an era where traditional methods of education funding are strained, volunteers and donors with the Waynesboro Area Business Education Community (WABEC) Foundation are finding ways to funnel private contributions into innovative programs for students.
The organization seeks to increase community involvement in education, and support student learning and achievement within the Waynesboro Area School District.
WABEC President Greg Ochoa became involved in the foundation about a year ago.
“I really liked the idea that this was a group doing work to support the needs of the students in the school district,” Ochoa said, noting that work is tangible and visible in schools.
Currently, WABEC officials are gearing up for a capital campaign, the first phase of which is expected to be announced in the spring, Ochoa said. The organization is consulting with individuals who have experience with past capital campaigns, he said.
The campaign will address athletics, arts and academics, he said.
WABEC had its first board meeting May 6, 1999.
“Over the course of 10 years now, WABEC has been providing innovative educational opportunities for students,” board member Rita Sterner-Hine said.
Through WABEC-funded Adventures in Learning, middle school students visit a college classroom and participate in mock job interviews. The program focuses on life skills.
WABEC provides funding to send second-grade students to Children’s Village in Washington County for fire and safety programs.
WABEC offers mini grants up to $5,000 for programs and technology. Past grant awards have funded a middle school dance team; broadcast announcements in the high school; books and materials for student-led conferences with teachers, administrators and parents; and interactive whiteboards.
Eight applicants received mini grants in 2011-12.
WABEC is “becoming a go-to organization if there is an innovative idea,” Sterner-Hine said.
WABEC’s annual golf tournament is a good event to not only increase awareness about the foundation, but also raise money for the programs, according to Sterner-Hine, who is principal of Summitview Elementary School.
Golfers and sponsors “are involved because they know where the money is going,” Ochoa said.
WABEC is established as a nonprofit organization. It also is approved within the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program in Pennsylvania, in which eligible businesses can receive tax credits for contributing to certain organizations.
Other ways to support WABEC include direct donations, the purchase of T-shirts and participation in events, Ochoa said.
WABEC’s vice president is Randy Sellers; its treasurer is Julie Sellers; and the secretary is Chastity Wantz.
Sterner-Hine said education extends beyond scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) standardized tests each year.
“It’s more than being ‘advanced’ or ‘proficient’ on the PSSA. You have to have the ability to interact with people, to continue to develop children overall,” she said.
Hardships at the federal and state levels affect education funding, and organizations like WABEC can be helpful in those circumstances, Ochoa said.
For more information about WABEC, visit www.wasd.k12.pa.us and click on “community.”
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