Big hearts marked the 2015 holiday season

The Durango Education Foundation experienced extraordinary generosity by local businesses and individuals this holiday season.

79 warm-hearted patrons at Maria’s Bookshop gave books to 111 students in Durango 9-R, with facilitation by the 9-R Communications staff and publicity by the Durango Education Foundation. In addition to the 9-R students, every child enrolled in the La Plata Family Centers also received a book through Maria’s program. Thank you, Peter Schertz, Roger Cottingham and the knowledgeable staff at Maria’s, for encouraging the sales that resulted in opening new worlds for eager young bookworms.

Shoppers at Sticks & Stones Handmade bought unique ornaments contributed by generous local artists, to support the Durango Education Foundation’s Michael Crane Memorial Arts Education fund. Thank you, Micki and Tim Hassemer, for organizing and hosting this creative fundraiser.

KSUT listeners may have heard DEF’s underwriting spots, which were boosted with a generous match from the Alpine Bank Community Matching Fund.

The Durango Education Foundation hosted two art sales (one silent, one online) this fall, also to benefit the Crane fund. Art pieces were donated by local artists and DEF trustees. DEF appreciates the artists and donors as well as the bidders and buyers for launching this new program to support visual and performing arts in our schools.

The Durango Education Foundation is able to support programs, fill the gaps in materials needs, and enhance technology in Durango School District 9-R because of generous Durango community members and businesses. We appreciate everyone who helps.


New DEF Fellows program means to connect community expertise with 9-R teachers and students

Past president Rob Dawes is hardly resting on the laurels of shepherding DEF through two years of monumental changes in the foundation’s vision and strategies. At the November 11 event, he rolled out DEF’s ambitious new program, the DEF Fellows, to bring the expertise of outside professionals in the community to the classrooms of 9-R.

The plan is to identify available volunteers willing to bring the special knowledge of their professions–from art and music to government and physics–to enhance curriculum in the schools, then match them up with teachers via a resource directory. DEF will offer orientation for the Fellows.

DEF sees this as a new avenue for promoting life-changing learning opportunities for 9-R students.

Interested? Please contact DEF to find out more.

Teachers: Please complete our survey to help us shape this program so that it serves you effectively and efficiently!


Students play to a full house at DEF Donor Appreciation Party

November 11. The combined theater arts students from Durango High School and Durango Arts Center wowed a full house at the DEF Appreciation party. DEF hosted the event to thank the many donors in the community and in the school district for their vitally needed support. The students performed 5 musical numbers, getting the crowd’s attention by starting with “Yakety Yak” and ending with “Seasons of Love” (from the musical Rent).

In addition, DEF president Jean Thweatt presented a slide show of highlights of school grants programs and presented an Award of Honor to Mary El Emrich for managing the golf tournament for 22 very successful years, Park Elementary School principal Kathleen Lau testified to the value of 15 years of DEF support, and Rob Dawes announced the new DEF Fellows program (see below for more on this).

We hope our guests got the message loud and clear: The tremendous support from our donors allows DEF the privilege of carrying out our mission to support Durango School District 9-R.


Click any to enlarge.

Top: Florida Mesa science club student; DAC kindergartners; Jean Thweatt presents Award of Honor to Mary El Emrich

Middle: Audience participates in Mary El’s surprise with thank you signs by Park Elementary 3rd graders; Ginny Dignum and Mary Kay Stewart share a laugh; Rob Dawes announces Fellows program

Bottom: Park Elementary principal Kathleen Lau; DHS Thespian Troupe; “You made it happen” thank you


Durango School District 9-R Convocation rocks the DHS gym

A pep rally brought the full staff of educators–teachers, administrators, support staff–together Friday, August 21, for a raucous, spirit-raising hour of laughter, cheering, and inspiration. The slide show set the tone. Enjoy it here.


Bank of Colorado announces recipient of the 2015 Education Innovation Award 

The Bank of Colorado Education Innovation Award is a coveted grant given to the Durango 9-R teacher or school proposing the most promising and innovative program; the award is administered by the Durango Education Foundation. The award winner was announced at Durango 9-R Convocation, Friday, August 21, by the Bank of Colorado president Greg Behn and fellow bank Donations Committee members Christine Phillips and Melisa Jackson (Other committee members Jason Portz and Jonathan Donnaway could not be present)


This year’s recipient is Sunnyside Elementary School for “21st Century Writing Fluency.” Teacher Lori Smith will be the grant administrator, with retired teacher (and grant designer) Melisa Vance advising on implementation and training.

Other nominees included Park Elementary School for “Park Powers Up!” and Durango Big Picture High School for “Project Foundry.” More details on the Bank of Colorado Award page. 


Durango Education Foundation hosts “Breakfast for Champions” August 14

Durango 9-R’s talented and dedicated Instructional Leadership Teams (100 members strong!), who are right now building plans for the new school year, started their professional development sessions on August 14 fueled by a continental breakfast from the Durango Education Foundation. It was D.E.F.’s chance to acknowledge and encourage the exceptional efforts these educators make to ensure excellence in 9-R classrooms. D.E.F. thanks Bread, Jeffie Morehouse, and an anonymous donor for helping with this “breakfast for champions.”

Durango Mall partners with D.E.F. with 2015 Back to School promotion

From kindergartners to college kids, who doesn’t need to shop before school opens? Returning this summer is the popular Durango Mall Back to School promotion, raising money for D.E.F., August 3-30. Shoppers earn a token for every $40 spent, and tokens earn a donation from Durango Mall management to D.E.F. For more information, visit .


D.E.F. is named one of 12 recipients for Rochester Hotel benefit concert series

In an act of creative generosity, the Rochester Hotel has chosen to donate all the proceeds from their popular summer “Secret Garden” concert series to 12 local charities. The series, which highlights mostly local musicians, runs Wednesdays 4:30-7:00 p.m. through September 30. Beverages and food are available for purchase. For more details, click here. Thank you, Rochester Hotel and administrating organization, Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado.


Matlock Furniture Partnership Promotion raises over $5000

D.E.F. gained 58 new friends and received more than $5000 in donations through the Matlock Furniture promotion this spring. The store offered steep discounts to anyone donating to D.E.F.–it proved a popular option, with customers earning between 10-20% off their entire order in exchange for a check to D.E.F. Thank you, Blair and Walter Matlock, for this clever, creative partnership idea.


Durango School District 9-R Board approves 2015-16 budget

Curious about the numbers for next year? Read and/or download a copy here. Lots of thought and discussion went into this budget, which continues to reflect negative factor calculations imposed by the Colorado State Legislature. For more information about Colorado school funding, visit the Great Education Colorado website.



About Assessments – More Information is Available

Did you miss the January 22 community forum on Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment? The Powerpoint presentation made by Board of Education President Andy Burns and Superintendent Dan Snowberger is available online.  Click here to download the file so you can review information and details shared during the forum.



CommunityFoundationLogoD.E.F. receives strong support from quiet donor

Through the Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, D.E.F. has received an extraordinary grant that gives a significant boost to D.E.F.’s 2015-16 grant cycle and operations. The donor wishes to remain in the background, and we honor that–just as we honor the donor’s dedication to funding exceptional educational programs for Durango 9-R.


La Plata County Energy Council gives D.E.F. a vote of confidence

Late in November, D.E.F. received a surprise grant from the La Plata County Energy Council, which raised money for non-profits through their successful golf tournament this year. Thank you, LPCEC, for your generosity!


D.E.F. receives a gift from the Durango Area Association of Realtors

Once again, D.E.F. is honored to have received a generous grant from the D.A.A.R., which donates to many area non-profits every year. The D.A.A.R. gift will go towards D.E.F. Core Grants for 2015. Thank you, area Realtors for your community spirit!


Mercury Gives supports Miller Outdoor Classroom

Thanks to the generosity of Mercury Payment Systems, Miller Middle School is the recipient of a generous grant, through D.E.F., for their garden classroom and environmental improvements project. Thank you, Mercury!


Education Matters: 59th District Candidates’ Forum

The October 14 Candidates’ Forum brought the two candidates, J. Paul Brown and Mike McLachlan, together to address concerns relating to education in Colorado. Attendees noted that the forum proved “informative” and “enlightening.” Read the Durango Herald cover piece on the forum here.

The event was filmed, courtesy of Durango School District 9-R and able cameraman Brian Schoff. Enjoy the full, unedited (1-hour) video below.


D.E.F. presents 9-R with grants and C.A.F.E. proceeds adding up to… a lot! Click here for the full article.

C.A.F.E. chair Holly Zink presents proceeds to 9-R School Board President Andy Burns and 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger; DEF board and staff look on. $2500 reserved by DEF for arts education.
C.A.F.E. chair Holly Zink presents proceeds to 9-R School Board President Andy Burns and 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger; DEF board and staff look on. $2500 reserved by DEF for arts education.