NMUSD teachers honored and funded during an evening of celebration

On Wednesday, May 1, a sold-out crowd of more than 200 teachers, principals, donors and guests honored the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation (NMSF) “Grants to Teachers Winners” and the NMFT “Teachers of the Year” at the OASIS Senior Center.

One highlight of this Annual Awards Banquet was provided by Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, who was in attendance to present a $25,000 donation to fund music and arts programs.

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Photo by Patty Marsters

OC Supervisor Katrina Foley (right) made a special donation to the district and later presented a grant to Laura Barnebey from Newport Harbor High School

This year’s grant program was updated to include Grade Level/Department Grants up to $5,000 and Individual Teacher Grants up to $1,500. A total of 148 grant applications were received district-wide, with nine Grade Level/Department Grants and 69 Individual grants awarded to 89 teachers.

The foundation’s president, Vicki Snell, opened the evening with two special honors. First, long-time board member, retired NMUSD principal, and the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, Scott Paulsen, was surprised with the “G.O.A.T.” award and “Emeritus Member” status for his many years of dedication and service to the organization.

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Photo by Patty Marsters

Cathy Bybee presents Scott Paulsen with G.O.A.T. recognition and an Emeritus Award upon his retirement from NMSF Board

Next, an honorarium memorial award was presented to the family of Barbara Harrington, a former NMUSD teacher, retired principal and a NMSF board member for more than 25 years. Harrington passed away in 2023.

Her daughter Julie Alweheiby accepted the award with President Snell saying, “Barbara Harrington was the heart of our organization.  She was dedicated to supporting teachers in their ability to engage and enrich the educational experience of our students. Her leadership was instrumental in the growth of NMSF.”

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Photo by Patty Marsters

Barbara Harrington was recognized and then memorial grants in her name were presented to (L-R): Shirley Kwan (Kaiser Elementary) along with Holly Kiernan and Joanna Ackerman from Newport Heights Elementary

The NMSF annual program will kick off again in the fall with fundraising and the next grant application process. Teachers and certificated personnel will then be able to submit their grants online by the January deadline.

Volunteer grant readers from throughout the Newport-Mesa community will again read and score the grants. Scoring is solely based on description and implementation plan, educational objectives, creativity and innovation, and accurate budgeting.

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Photo by Patty Marsters

Superintendent Dr. Wes Smith presented a memorial grant to Lynn Eckweiler, Paularino Elementary

The foundation finally completes the process by awarding the grants based on the highest scores and the funds available to donate.

The foundation’s next event is the State of the Schools Breakfast on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at Corona del Mar High School with Dr. Wesley Smith, NMUSD superintendent, as the keynote speaker.

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Photo by John Santoyo

Assistance League Newport-Mesa Grant recipients (L-R): Kristin Pirotin, Pomona Elementary; Jocelyn Downing, Mariners Elementary; Kerri Bordelon, Newport Heights Elementary and Trisha Petero, Sonora Elementary

The Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation was founded in 1981 and is an all-volunteer non-profit 501(3)(c) organization that has been raising and distributing funds to teachers in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Visit the foundation’s website to learn how you might support our teachers by donating, funding a grant or volunteering at www.newportmesaschoolsfoundation.com.


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