City Hall Celebration Tonight Spotlights the Importance of Public Schools to the City

Published : Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | 5:21 AM

Pasadena public school educators and their supporters will take over the City Hall courtyard this evening in a celebratory spirit to review last year’s achievements within the Pasadena Unified School District, and look ahead to what’s next.

“Celebrating Our Schools – Envision 2017” will be staged by the non-profit Pasadena Educational Foundation, which raises, on average, about $6 million annually for Pasadena Unified’s educational programs.

“This is our opportunity to bring the community together around the united purpose of supporting the public schools of our community. It’s a great opportunity for people of different walks of life and different background to celebrate the fact that public schools are so important in our community,” said Pasadena Educational Foundation Executive Director Patrick Conyers.

For more than 45 years, the Pasadena Educational Foundation has helped build community partnerships to support public schools in Altadena, Pasadena and Sierra Madre.

Whether it be through the arts, music, health centers, gardens, or Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs the foundation supports, the Foundation is dedicated to creating a better future for both students and the community.

“PEF has helped propel PUSD into becoming the first choice in education for more families in the Pasadena area. Through grants written by PEF, PUSD has launched the successful dual language immersion programs, our magnet schools, the arts education program that links with local museums, and the college and career academies that are preparing our students to earn admission top colleges and universities,” said a PUSD spokesperson.

The foundation is supported by funds from the community and exists to support the public schools of the PUSD through various programs—a main one being the Teacher Grants Program, which presented $184,000 in grants to 160 Pasadena Unified Schools District teachers and principals.

“There’s so much going on in our schools that people are unaware of. That’s one of our main jobs at PEF to spread the world of how wonderful and how many amazing programs that our schools actually have and we are giving the community the opportunity to see it for themselves first hand,” PEF Board Member Sandy Roberts.

This year PUSD is piloting a program called the “Math Academy” which aims to radically accelerate students in middle school starting in 6th grade and completes the high school math curriculum by 8th grade.

Four schools in PUSD will feature the program when it launches.
“Their high school curriculum is going to be very close to an undergraduate math degree program. What we are doing is graduating students from our high schools who are prepared not only to enter, but to succeed at any college to compete with any kids around the world,” said Sandy Roberts.

The PEF also played a key role in developing the four year computer science academy which will see its second graduating class of seniors this year.

Additionally in 2016 alone, PEF secured a $79,500 National Endowment of the Arts Grant to create a performing arts program, led 9,000 students on a cultural and artistic journey through our local world class museums through the “My Masterpieces” program, supported the 3D Printer Programs in every PUSD school and distributed $63,000 in college scholarships to the Class of 2016, to name a few accomplishments.

According to the California Department of Education, PUSD students have shown an increase of 9.4 points increase in English Language Arts grades three to eight and and has maintained its mathematics score with a 4.6 percent increased, based on the Department’s scale.

This year’s Keynote Speaker Charles L. Harrington, Parsons CEO/Chairmain/President, a visionary and inspiring leader in engineering. Since 1995, Parsons has been a major PEF supporter, and has contributed to many STEM initiatives in the district.

“It’s important for our community to join together with PEF to support public schools. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders, and they will be the pioneers and innovators of the future,” said Harrington. “Parsons and PEF believe strong schools build strong communities.”

STEM workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, according to Parsons.

“As responsible corporate citizens, it is important for companies like Parsons to get involved and stay involved in education. Education provides the basic skills and tools we all—especially our youth—need to navigate the world today and in the future. It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science,”said a Parsons spokesperson.

1999 marked the first year Parsons began supporting PEF through board memberships (Melissa Winham, Talent Development Consultant, currently represents Parsons on the board).

And throughout the past 20 years, Parsons employees have enjoyed volunteering to work with PUSD students.

For 16 years, Parsons employees volunteered to work with PUSD students through the Future Scientists and Engineers of America or FSEA—a national afterschool program of the Discovery Science Center designed to let students perform real engineering and science.

Parsons staff engaged students in hands-on projects that ranged from constructing a rubberband-powered automobile to building a basic bridge. This program is now referred to as the ParSTEM Pasadena Chapter and has involved Parsons’ staff participating in PUSD activities such as mock interviews and resume workshops.

“We absolutely think that our involvement with PEF and PUSD has helped to improve the student experience. Not only has Parsons provided financial support, our employees have also volunteered to work hands-on with students,” said the spokesperson.

Envision 2017 will feature over a dozen interactive exhibits and experiences highlighting Pasadena Unified’s outstanding students and remarkable programs and range from solar boat building, brain scanning, journalism and more..

The event presenter is John Muir High School principal Tim Sippel who also leads his students in the Engineering and Environmental Sciences Academy as they learn to improve the quality of life on earth through the power of science and mathematics.

“It’s an extensive exhibition before the program begins to give our guests a little bit of a hands-on experience of what our kids are actually doing in the classroom,” said Roberts.

“Celebrating Our Schools – Envision 2017” kicks off Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at the City Hall courtyard located at 100 North Garfield Avenue.

Tickets are $150 and wine and will include wine and hors d’oeuvers.

To RSVP and purchase tickets, go to

To learn more about the Pasadena Educational Foundation, go to

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