Education foundation expresses its gratitude
By Jason Gabak
Thursday night Val and Bob Jerabeck opened their home as hosts of the Skaneateles Education Foundation’s Academic Circle reception.
This was a night that put the focus on education and the opportunites afforded to students and educators alike in the Skaneateles district with the help of the SEF.
It was also a night dedicated to gratitude.
“It is our way of saying thank you,” Heather Carroll, executive director of the education foundation said. “It is just a nice way to show our supporters how much we appreciate all they do and show them what their support makes possible.”
Superintendent Ken Slentz took a few minutes to speak at the reception and reflected on how important the relationship between the school district and the education foundation truly is and the incredible value of the support.
As guests arrived at the intimate gathering, the high school jazz ensemble was performing a set in the Jerabeck living room.
While in the garage students were showing their award wining pieces from the Robert F. Kennedy Speak Truth to Power film contest and others demonstrated creations they have made with the school’s audio recording and editing facilities as well as the video editing facilities.
“We have incredibly talented students and incredible teachers,” Carroll said. “The mission of the education foundation is to support those extra projects and help make some of those projects possible to make sure we are giving our students the best opportunities possible.”
Since joining the district three years ago Slentz has shared and encouraged a philosophy that the district should strive to offer as many opportunities as possible to engage all students.
This can come in any number of forms whether in the arts, food production, video and audio production or math and science, the district has a commitment to offering as much as possible to ensure students are engaged and with a little luck will connect with an educational opportunity that will help drive the next phase of their life whether that is college or in the workforce.
Carroll pointed to project like the zoon room in the high school used for video production and the installation of music recording facilities as a few examples of how the education foundation is working to live up to the ideals put forth by Slentz.
Scott Stagnitta, a teacher in the district has been working with students in a class focused on growing plants utilizing hydroponic technology.
Stagnitta said this is a class that has evolved over the past five years.
When he initially proposed it, he said there was interest but he said the education foundation turned his proposal down.
“They actually said it was too small,” Stagnitta joked. “They told me it wasn’t big enough. So I came back with a bigger plan.”
What started with a few students has grown to be a popular class that Stagnitta said has to limit the number of students due to the space and facilities currently available.
He went on to say how appreciative he was of the support of the education foundation.
“They sent me to Epcot,” Stagnitta said. “I went there to learn more.”
Stagnitta and Carroll both said this class has influenced the college and career choices of many students who have taken part.
“Students have gone to study and pursue careers in food science because they took the hydroponics class,” Carroll said. “They’ve learned and taken a real interest in food production something they might not have done if they didn’t have the opportunity to take a class like the one Scott offers.”
Fellow educator Corey Riley had a similar story to Stagnitta.
Since joining the district Riley has worked with and continues to work with the education foundation to enhance the music education opportunities offered.
Through the support of the education foundation and the district Riley is able to offer a course in music production.
Riley was able to earn his certification in Pro Tools, the software used by music production professionals.
He said the recording facilities have allowed students write and produce their own pieces, offering several dimensions from performance to final production, giving students a greater insight into how the music industry works.
Madeline Van Riper said this has been an incredible experience and she plans to pursue music education in college.
It is this kind of success that Carroll said she hoped to share with the guests at the gathering.
“We wanted to show some of what is made possible by the support of the community,” Carroll said. “It is the support of the community that makes all of these opportunities possible and gives our students so many options.”