Our schools are very important, as they provide an education that helps all the children get inspired for the future. Well, on May 6 the Culver City Education Foundation held their 35th annual Tribute to the Stars at the Culver Studios. They were honoring teachers, volunteers, staff and those who pushed the limit for complete awesomeness.
I interviewed Leslie Adler, Executive Director of CCEF.
Q: Ms. Adler, when did you become involved in CCEF? (Culver City Education Foundation)
A: “I have been executive director for 7-½ years and spent 8 years on the Board of Directors.
Q: How can somebody get involved?
A: “First of all, we have a wonderful volunteer community called Ed Corps. If people are not sure they want to be on the Board of Directors, they can volunteer. Otherwise you can become a Board Member and be a real part of making decisions and voting on issues for the district. We do not just fundraise to fundraise, we really get the focus from the Superintendent.
Q: What does CCEF do for the school district?
A: “We fund across the district, each school has its’ own fundraising arm. The difference with CCEF is that we want to affect across the board, every student, every school, every day (our motto). If we do something for 5th grade at one of the schools, we want to do it for all five of the schools, like Art, Front and Center, Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, etc. We go after big grants outside from corporations and foundations so I work on a lot of grants to be able to get a lot more money to fund the programs that we do.”
Q: What is your favorite part of CCEF?
A: “I love to make things happen for the students. I love helping the students and seeing where the students are going in high school and seeing them graduating.”
I then interviewed Wendy Hamill, president of the Board of Directors for CCEF.
Q: Ms. Hamill, how can you get involved at CCEF?
A: “Well, anyone can be involved in many different ways. Obviously there are a lot of people in the community who are donors, and that is important for the work being done at the schools. We have a volunteer Board of Directors and if someone is interested in becoming a Board Member they should call the CCEF office. We would love to have them be part of the Board and to help lead the organization.
Q: What is your favorite program that CCEF provides?
A: “I can’t really pick a favorite program because I think the various programs with the arts, theater, music, technology in the classrooms are all very important. Everything we do, a long 35 year history, helps our schools. I know that we do things that just wouldn’t be possible with the existing school budget. “
Q: How and why should someone donate their money to CCEF?
A: “Through our website; www. Ccef4schools.org. You can go there and donate at anytime. Everyone should be, as we should be, proud of our Culver City schools. It takes all of us to sustain the programs and keep them going strong”.
Q: What is CCEF to Culver City?
A: “I think everyone knows by now that CCUSD is hugely important to the quality of our lives here in Culver City and to the success of our city as a whole. So as the CCEF is the strongest pillar of support for our schools, it is also vital to our entire city and all of us who live here.”
I then got the chance to sit down with our new Vice Mayor Thomas Small.
Q: Vice Mayor Small, what is your favorite part of being a Culver City Council Member/ Vice Mayor?
A: “The best thing for me about being a Council Member is that we can do innovative, effective work in creating a great city with more agility, alacrity, and joy than just about any place I can imagine. We work so hard, but those who elected us seem to appreciate what we do, and the intelligence, compassion and conviction that we try to bring to it.”
I then interviewed Dr. Indelicato, the Principal of my school, Lin Howe:
Q: Dr. Indelicato, how long have you worked at Lin Howe?
A: “Five years at Lin Howe as Principal. I also worked at the high school for six years as Assistant Principal, and at the middle school for 5 years as PE teacher. I have been at CCUSD for a long time.”
Q: How did you find Culver City?
A: “Well, I moved here from Indiana. If you look at the map, Indiana looks really close to the ocean but I slowly realized that it’s not close at all. I wanted to be near the ocean, and go to the beach. So, I looked for jobs in Orange County. Someone at the middle school here said “Please come, you are just what we’re looking for!” I had already interviewed for a job in Orange County, and they gave me the job. CCUSD asked for me to come look at the campus, and when I did, I fell in love. They also interviewed me the same day and offered me the position. I said yes and now, I’m here.”
Q: Why do you like about Lin Howe?
A: “The biggest thing for me is to find a school that fits your personality and your passions. Lin Howe has done that for me.”
Q: How do you select the winners from Lin Howe for CCEF?
A: “I solicit nominations from staff members and then I decide for Volunteer of the Year. For Teacher and Classified Employees, community members and Lin Howe employees submit nominations. The Learning Team (comprised of a representative from each grade level) review the nominations and select the winners.”
My next interview was with Tom Mott, Volunteer of the Year for Lin Howe:
Q: Mr. Mott, why do you volunteer at Lin Howe?
A: “I do it because it is fun and I work from home so I have a chance to. A lot of my volunteering at the school is wrapped around art for school. Our district art teacher only comes four times per year so I volunteer to make sure we have more art lessons for kids.”
Q: What other art did you find for Lin Howe?
A: “I am on the Art Committee so I helped to find PS Arts last year and Star Arts this year so we can have more art.”
My last interview was with my mom, Kathy Johnson, who also was Volunteer of the Year for Lin Howe:
Q: Mom, why do you volunteer at Lin Howe?
A: “My parents taught me at a young age that you have to give back, you can’t just take. It is a tradition I am so happy to share with you!”
Q: How did you volunteer at Lin Howe?
A: “I have been very active in PTA since you were in kindergarten. This year I was PTA President for Lin Howe. I am so proud of the school community we have at Lin Howe. While I am humbled and honored that I received this, it is important to know that all of the great schools we have in Culver City are supported by so many parents and volunteers, including Lin Howe. One person can not do everything and our schools are great not only because of our district leaders, our principals and our school staff, but also because our parents and our community support them and CCEF!”
It was an amazing night and what I realized is that CCEF is important to everyone, not just me, a student, but the whole community. It affects my learning, and helps me and my fellow students branch out to new things. I’ve previously been in Math Olympiads, the Backpacks for Kids program (volunteering), the Growing Great gardens, and more. Without CCEF, these things wouldn’t have been possible. So, not only from me, but the whole entire school district, THANK YOU CCEF!
Mailee Johnson, fifth grader at Linwood E. Howe, and reporter for KidScoop Media