As Pasadena Unified Struggles to Cope with Shrinking Budget, Local Nonprofit Shines Spotlight on Hard-Working Teachers and Students

Pasadena Educational Foundation goes past the cold numbers to honor the warm, vibrant and caring teachers and students

Published : Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | 5:30 AM

With the Pasadena Unified School District’s financial skies darkening, seemingly every month, scores of shining stars emerged to brighten Tuesday’s evening as the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) held its “Breakthrough 2018” event supporting the Pasadena Unified School District.

With booth displays throughout the City Hall courtyard, students from PUSD’s schools and academies showed off solar-powered boats, paintings and drawings, read French poetry, showed off theater costumes inspired by Chagall and Bauhaus, and covered the event with their own media team.

Patrick Conyers, Executive Director of the Pasadena Educational Foundation, and Mayor Terry Tornek welcomed the crowd and opened the event. While Mayor Tornek apologized for the vaguely gloomy weather, he also reminded the audience that the City and PUSD are both struggling under financial constraints and urged their support of an upcoming sales tax ballot measure to raise funds for both the city and its schools.

The evening honored, among others, the Pasadena Tournament of Rose Association, which has been “a generous community partner of the PEF and our public schools” for many years. Conyers personally thanked Lance Tibbett, past president of the Tournament.

Conyers also gratefully acknowledged a $500,00 gift made by Keith and Margaret Russell for PEF’s Endowment which will provide PEF with $50,000 a year for the next ten years.

Keynote speaker, Pasadena resident, and USC Engineering Professor Andrea Armani highlighted the importance of STEM programs in the PUSD, drawing from her own student experiences. Armani’s own EngX event introduces middle school and high school students to concepts in engineering with hands-on activities.

But it was students from Elliot Middle School and actress/Pasadena resident Jane Kaczmarek who stole the show, as Kaczmarek led the fundraising, and the students showed off their “Alice in Wonderland” costumes made by the school’s own costume crew.

The cast members, in full regalia, scampered across the courtyard, collecting checks and cash for the Foundation to Kaczmarek’s encouragement. A few thousand dollars later, the gathered crowd enjoyed a little dinner, proud to support students building their own futures, with a little help from the community.

For more about the Pasadena Educational Foundation, please click here.

 

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