Showing my respect

Hi everyone,

Last night was supposed to be the occasion of the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet in Springfield hosted by the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, an annual event that regularly draws more than 800 people. Of course it didn’t happen, but from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. I attended a Zoom meeting hosted by Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Foundation, “for a few of our friends, who serve on our committee now, have served in the past, our current board, a few of our past leaders.” I dressed for the meeting the same way I would have to attend the real banquet: dress shoes, slacks, colored shirt, jacket, and the special tie I’ve worn to every banquet for the last twenty+ years.

This is the first time I’ve gotten dressed up since the pandemic began but I consider the Teacher Appreciation Banquet an important event and though it was a virtual meeting it still felt like an occasion to show my respect to the teachers who would have been honored last evening if the real thing could have happened.

The banquet is now reset for August 31 so I’ll wear the tie again, twice in one year, and join the large hall filled with people who come to honor the men and women who educate and help raise our community’s children.

First organizational meeting for Springfield Public School Foundation

Hi everyone,

I promise to stop talking about treasures that keep turning up in the basement, but I do want to mention this last one. It isn’t about writing. It’s about when a small group of us started the Springfield Public School Foundation (later changed to Foundation for Springfield Public Schools) in 1990. In a folder I found the memorandum from Tom Field addressed to Larry Dixon, David Harrison, and Jackie McKinsey suggesting we pick a date for our organizational meeting. What we had the privilege of starting has grown over these past 29 years as described on the Foundation website:

“Since its beginning in 1990, the Foundation has worked with our generous donors and volunteers, the community, district administrators and teachers to put dollars exactly where they are needed – in classrooms to fund new technology, innovative learning projects, scholarships for graduating seniors, and many more, powerful tools for education.

What began with a handful of volunteers, putting together a Foundation that would take donations and manage funds to benefit the schools, has grown to become a Foundation that manages over $5 million and more than 150 funds and scholarships.

To date, the Foundation has given more than $17 million to the Springfield Public Schools and its students to accomplish the Foundation’s mission to raise, manage and distribute private investment to benefit the students of Springfield Public Schools.

The vision of the Foundation is to promote educational excellence for every child by working with the public school system and the community.

Among the Foundation’s landmark achievements are the Telethon for Technology, the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet, annual Back to School grants program and Pick-a-Project – an online, fundraising site for teacher-submitted, classroom projects.

In 2016, the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools ranked number seven out of 188 of the top education foundations in “Stepping Up: The Nation’s Top K-12 Education Foundations 2016.”

I stood in the basement for some time, holding the folder in my hands and reading again after all these years our original documents of intent as we organized for the future. I felt taller when I came back up the stairs.

Reading Roundup

Hi everyone,
David publicity photo
Our Reading Roundup committee met yesterday to select the winners of this year’s grant requests from Springfield Public Schools librarians. Renee Hunt, Rex Hansen, Terry Bond, and Morey Mechlin were there, as they have been all these years. I’ve never worked on a more stable committee. A few years ago we turned over the reins of Reading Roundup to the Foundation for SPS so Director Natalie Murdock officiated at the meeting.

As I’ve said before, sitting there reading grant requests gives us insights into the needs and ideas of librarians throughout the district, which is Missouri’s largest public school system. It has been a privilege to serve students in this capacity for the past sixteen years.

My thanks to all.


Reading Roundup

Hi everyone,

Yesterday the Reading Roundup committee met to decide which librarian grant requests we’ll fund for this coming school year. Reading Roundup began in 2000 as a community-based committee that wanted to help the Springfield Public School district raise all of its school libraries to the highest level mandated by the state. On the way to meeting the target, about 190,000 new books were added to the system, enough books to make an imaginary stack one mile high. Thanks to the dedication of the board of education and its administrators, 135,000 books were added by the district while the remaining 55,000 came from donations through other sources, including Reading Roundup. Of the 190,000 total, nearly 90,000 replaced worn and outdated books. Springfield’s public school libraries had never been better.

Since 2007 we’ve changed our mission to grant requests from librarians that are specific to their particular student body needs and can’t be funded through traditional district budget channels. Over the fifteen years since Reading Roundup began we’ve seen many changes in the needs of school libraries and the ways in which they serve students. Keeping up, in these digital times, is a challenge for all concerned. In 2013 we turned over the reins of Reading Roundup to the Foundation for Public Schools. I no longer chair the committee but nearly all of our original committee members remain on board as we continue to seek ways to be helpful to the students in our public schools.

Winners of this year’s round of grant funding will be announced next month by Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Foundation for Public Schools. We’re about to kick off the fund raising part of each year’s campaign to replenish our reserves for next year.

Byron Biggers Band

Hi everyone,

Thanks (?) to Jana Bachus who, among other things, serves the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools as its Executive Director, the fabled Byron Biggers Band is now on YouTube!

During the Reading Roundup book fair at Barnes & Noble this past Saturday, Jana, who also serves as chair of Reading Roundup, took pictures of our group performing. If you think you’re strong enough, here’s the link. You’ve been warned. This is serious music!

A reminder that the book fair extends through May 1 and a percentage of store sales during the fair goes to support Reading Roundup’s goal of funding as many as possible of the grants submitted by our public school librarians to buy needed materials for their students.