When parents at Torrey Pines Elementary realized that a PTA left them limited in what they could do for their school, they took things into their own hands and created a Torrey Pines Elementary School Foundation. At a time when schools need more assistance than a PTA can give them, parents are increasingly turning toward these foundations, where they make the rules about where their money can go and how they can raise it.
Shannon Wineman, who served on the Board of Directors for the foundation for the last four years, said, “The old model doesn’t work. There is too much that needs to get done that isn’t getting done, lots of schools are turning to this method.” Last year, the foundation raised $180,000 dollars to fund art, music, P.E., computers, the school’s librarian, and upper grade teachers.
Wineman said funding all of these essential programs is a double-edged sword because while parents want their kids to enjoy the benefits of the fund-raising, paying for it draws concern they are enabling the state to say “you are okay without us.”
Calling Torrey Pines Elementary school the, “Greatest slice of American pie ever,” Wineman said the variety of fund-raisers cater to the diversity found at Torrey Pines Elementary School. “Some people just want to write a check. Others, who may not be able to do that, will put in the footwork walking door to door to sell wrapping paper in their neighborhood,” Wineman said.
The foundation has paid off. Last year, Torrey Pines Elementary tied Bird Rock Elementary for the highest scores in the district. “It’s really a testament to the teachers, administrators and parents,” said Wineman.
The foundation is new, just 5 years old, but seeing increasing success.
A newer addition to the Family and Community Events part of the foundation is the Kids Care Club, which just won first place in “Outstanding Community Service Project,” from PTO Today. The organization has Torrey Pines Elementary School students participate in service activities once a month. Two leaders are chosen from 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade who bring the news for the community service event back to their classmates, and the lower-grade classrooms.
“I thought it was important to have students leading the project. The other students are more willing to get involved in the project when it’s their peers asking them to do it,” said Amanda Friedman, who started Kids Care Club.
As part of the Family and Community Events side of the foundation, Friedman was working towards organizing activities that brought families together as a community. She saw service as a great way to do that. “I wanted to involve the kids. Many of the kids at the school are well taken care of and I wanted them to appreciate how lucky they were and to see that they have something to offer to the community,” Friedman said.
The service projects included work with the homeless, donating clothes to orphanages, painting over graffiti, donating to Rady Children’s Hospital, and collecting bags of groceries for Mama’s Kitchen, to name a few.
On his way to a Jungle Book play put on by San Diego Junior Theater, Torrey Pines Fourth grader Roberto Quinones had plenty of great things to say about Kids Care Club. A dancer and soccer player, last year he was also the 3rd grade leader for Kids Care Club.
“I think it’s great because we get to help people, it’s very interesting,” he said, adding that all of the students he informed about it were enthusiastic about the project. His favorite community service project was the food run, and hopes future plans for Kids Care Club include donating school supplies to Iraq students. He also plans to continue working towards being on Broadway and winning a Tony.
For more information about Kids Care Club or the Torrey Pines Elementary School foundation, visit www.tpesfoundation.org.