Schools Fund Spring Luncheon Draws Large Gathering, Honors 2 Science Educators

The Schools Fund annual spring luncheon is a popular event. Photo: Mark Coplan

This year’s Berkeley Public Schools Fund Spring Luncheon not only raised needed funding for the schools but also celebrated two important STEM initiatives in our middle schools and the people leading them.

The luncheon on Friday, May 12, filled the large dining room at Hs Lordships. The Spring Luncheon is the Schools Fund’s biggest fundraiser and an annual community gathering to highlight the Schools Fund’s contribution to Berkeley schools. This year’s theme, “Be a Scientist,” is the name of a relatively new curriculum that brings 200 UC Berkeley scientists – graduate students, post-docs, faculty and upper-level undergrads – as mentors to guide middle school 7th graders through scientific inquiry and investigation.

UC Berkeley Associate Professor Mary Wildermuth and Longfellow science teacher Matt Hinkley were honored at the 2017 Schools Fund Spring Luncheon. Photos: Diane Dew

Named as Distinguished Educator was Matt Hinckley, who teaches science at Longfellow and serves as the K-8 science teacher leader for implementing science curriculum. He has been working closely with the Schools Fund to bring the first Maker Space to the District at Longfellow for the 2017-18 school year.

Also honored was UC Berkeley Associate Professor Mary Wildermuth, who is also a parent at Berkeley High. She worked with BUSD teachers and administrators and the nonprofit Community Resources for Science to develop the Be a Scientist program, which began at King in 2014-15. It expanded to a second middle school the following year and is now in all three middle schools. Initial funding was provided by the Schools Fund in partnership with the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund at UC, with the voter-approved Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) also now becoming a source of financial support.

Also honored at the luncheon was Berkeley High senior Amber Lee. Photo: Diane Dew

Eriin Rhoades, Executive Director of the Berkeley Schools Fund. Photo: Diane Dew

Special recognition and a turn at the luncheon rostrum were given to Berkeley High senior Amber Lee, a student in AVID, an example of a program that got its start with support from the Schools Fund. Amber was commended for her achievements, dedication to dance and recent admission to UC Berkeley. She also was the subject of a recent KPIX “Students Rising Above” feature.

Distinguished guests included former State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, Alameda County Superintendent of Education L. Karen Moore, School Board President Ty Alper, Superintendent Donald Evans and several members of the Berkeley City Council.

Assemblymember Thurmond presented a Certificate of Recognition honoring the Schools Fund. “On behalf of the California State Assembly and as Chair of the Select Committee on STEM Education, thank you for your dedication and vision in preparing our students for the 21st Century Economy,” the certificate says in part.

More luncheon photos can be seen on Mark Coplan’s Flickr album.

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