A tour May 31 leaves East Middle School by bus to show attendees how grant money has been spent.

A tour May 31 leaves East Middle School by bus to show attendees how grant money has been spent.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Education foundation goes on the road to woo donors

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published June 12, 2018

 David Roggenkamp, chair of the board of directors for the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation, addresses a tour group in the Wood Creek Elementary School library.

David Roggenkamp, chair of the board of directors for the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation, addresses a tour group in the Wood Creek Elementary School library.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Advertisement

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — How far can $375,836 take you in Farmington Public Schools?

Through the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation, pretty far — like 279 grants so far to directly support over 9,000 FPS students.

Just ask Martha Leever, a Parent Teacher Student Association representative at East Middle School, who is involved in overseeing a sensory garden funded by the education foundation.

Or Wood Creek Elementary School Parent Teacher Association President Jennifer Hassell, who used foundation grant money to offer a first-time extracurricular Bear Book Club at Wood Creek.

Susan Groenenboom, a media aide for the Farmington High School media center, could tell you how to stretch those dollars to purchase science, technology, engineering and math materials for makerspace kits.

It’s all been done over the past six years through the foundation’s grants in partnership with Bosch to help students at FPS.

The nonprofit foundation invests in unique educational opportunities to help FPS students, according to the group.

The foundation hosted its inaugural Get on the Bus tour of three schools May 31 to showcase grant projects to current and potential donors and supporters. Attendees toured Wood Creek Elementary School, East Middle School and Farmington High School.

“I want people to have walked away with really innovative things that are happening,” said Nancy Jennings, executive director of the foundation. “I want them to take away how deep (of an) investment the foundation has made.”

Jennings said that for a small organization with one staff person — herself — to have raised $375,000 in donations in six years’ time is “pretty phenomenal.”

Jennings said the foundation informs the school community that financial resources are available, and people apply for grants and are chosen based on educational programs, initiatives, extracurricular enrichment, scholastic achievement and more.

With a handful of recently picked, large onions and horseradishes in her arms, Leever talked about how the foundation’s grant provided the school with the opportunity to transform a drab courtyard into a garden that features usable outdoor space, picnic tables, a rooftop weather center, a pond and plants.

The garden, which also has a reading area, benefited from a $1,500 grant. 

Leever, who wrote the grant application, said that the raised-bed sensory garden’s weather center features a rain gauge.

“It’s amazing what you can buy at Sam’s Club,” she said. “I installed an irrigation system so over the summer the garden can take care of itself.”

A duck and her ducklings found the 112-by-50-foot garden to be a nice spot.

Leever said that nearly all schools in Farmington have an inner courtyard, “but they don’t look like this.” 

At Wood Creek, Hassell stood with fifth-grader Lorelei Shrum, who is part of the book club.

Hassell said that kids participate in the book club during their lunch hour and met on Tuesdays.

“(They) meet the following Tuesday and talked over that section of (the) book,” she said. The club received a $1,500 grant.

Fourth- and fifth-graders read the book “Three Times Lucky,” by Sheila Turnage, in March and “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon,” by Grace Lin, in April.

Susan Victor-McCarthy, a Farmington Hills resident who lives near the school and attended the tour, said after the tour that the school is appealing.

“I think the school is beautiful,” she said. “I’ve been voting here for a few years, and the library is beautiful. Everybody seems so warm, the children engaged.”

The retired teacher said she likes seeing children learning.

“It warms my heart; it just does, and I really like the idea that everybody works together,” she said of parents, community agencies and the foundation.

“This is all just a new experience for me. I’ve never done anything like this before — even in California (and) Detroit.”

A Toast to Education will raise money for the foundation at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at Farmington Hills Manor, 23666 Orchard Lake Road.

Jennings said the community backs the foundation.

“The reason we’ve been able to give away $375,000 is because the community supports us,” she said.

For additional information, email info@ffhedfoundation.org or go to ffhedfoundation.org.

Advertisement