The staff and students of Bellingham Public Schools are fortunate to have a foundation working alongside them to support need and fill gaps in funding.
The following are just two of the ways the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation has impacted our classrooms and students in 2018. Thank you to the Foundation staff and board and to the many donors who support their work.
Vision Screening Machine
In summer 2018, Foundation funds purchased the $8,000 Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener used in every school by our Wellness program. With a quick screening, the machine reports back detailed vision data that can be shared with parents/guardians if vision problems are detected.
According to Kim Lund, Executive Director of the Foundation, the rationale for purchasing it was simple. “We purchased the machine because we know how important clear vision is for children to learn. We also know that nationally more than 60 percent of students that are expelled or suspended have been found to need corrective vision,” Lund said.
“We hope this camera helps our healthcare team to more accurately identify vision issues before they might become academic, behavioral or disciplinary concerns.”
According to the director of Wellness Jessica Sankey, the vision screening machine was used in all 14 elementary schools this fall, screening nearly 4,000 students.
“We cannot thank the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation enough for this addition to our health and wellness services.”
“We have great leadership from our nurse team on these screenings who used the machine to its greatest impact,” Sankey said. “Colleen Boisjoile, our district Licensed Practical Nurse, was present for every screening this fall and the school nurses followed up with families if the machine detected a need.”
In January, all seventh grade students will be screened and the machine will continue to provide a huge impact in vision health.
Educators can now say “Yes” with Foundation YES cards
This fall, the Foundation launched a new program called “YES Cards” which designated $20,000 to teachers and other staff remove barriers to learning that are not covered by other funding. These gift cards can be given to students who need clothing or shoes, food, personal items, transportation, supplies or any need not being met. In one month, 67 cards have been distributed, totaling $6,700.
Since its inception in November, the Foundation staff has received poignant stories from educators about the YES Cards taking care of so many needs. The following stories are a sampling of the requests that have come in this fall:
One of my students did not come to school yesterday because he could not find his shoe. I asked if he only had one pair of shoes, and he said that he owned more pairs but they were all too small now. Having another pair of shoes that fits will make it so that he can come to school each day and remove that stress from him and his family.
This student loves art and could use supplies so that the student can pursue their passion at home. I gave this student a package of sharpies last year and it was like the best thing that ever happened. I would love to say YES, here are a bunch of supplies for you!
My student wears the same shirt every day to school and I have never seen him wearing a coat. He often mentions he is hungry.
I have a student whose family came to the U.S. under political asylum, and who are currently experiencing homelessness. They are living in a motel on Samish, and I would love to be able to give them a gift card to Haggen and one to Rite Aid (within walking distance) for them to purchase food and basics.
We have an eight-person family who is currently homeless, living in a small apartment with another family until they can afford their own place. They are in need of many things, from food to winter clothing. Some items this family may purchase might include warmer clothing, shoes/boots, and personal items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, or food.