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February 20, 2014

NPS Foundation celebrates 30 years, notes importance of school grant funds

NORMAN — Donors were not shy about getting out their checkbooks Wednesday as the Norman Public Schools Foundation celebrated 30 years at its annual donor luncheon.

Norman Public School Foundation helps Norman teachers have a greater impact on students’ educational experience. NPSF provides a direct benefit to Norman educators and students with academic programs, classroom grants, scholarships and teacher recognition.

The organization began in 1984 when 78 people donated $1,000 each. Three of these founding members attended the donor luncheon, including Gerry Mayes, Joe Sparks and Buddy Pendarvis.

Through its 30 years, NPSF has put $1.5 million back into Norman schools. Logan Johnson, NPSF president, said this year, the foundation intends to give more than $100,000 in grants to teachers.

Guest speakers at the luncheon included Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano, who gave a NPS district update, and Amy Brooks Young, a fifth-grade teacher who spoke of her experience receiving grants from the foundation.

The luncheon’s keynote speaker was David W. Prater, Oklahoma County district attorney. Prater is a Norman alumnus and a former Norman police officer.

Siano described a sense of loss and concern for public education that he recently felt at a public school administration conference. He said administrators feel as if public education is on the cusp of change and not necessarily for the benefit of students, but despite these concerns, the Norman community has made public education a priority.

“The day after (the school administration conference), this community stepped up and passed a bond by 84 percent. We have the same concerns and problems as those across the state and nation, but we continue to move forward,” he said. “The key difference is what’s happening in this room today. Your efforts say to teachers, administrators and students you are valuable and important, and education is a priority.”

Siano also said the district would continue to have a vision for students beyond graduation and prepare them for future career choices.

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