Ojai Valley News
Published Friday, October 18, 2019
Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
With a theme this year of “Inspiring Innovation,” the Ojai Education Foundation held its annual breakfast fundraiser “OEF Celebrates!” Thursday at the Nordhoff High School gym.
OEF had a lot to celebrate at the event, including this year’s grantees. The organization awarded an unprecedented $103,429 in grants to support the Ojai Unified School District schools. For the first time, grant money went to projects for students and OUSD employees, as well as teachers. This included $200 each in grants for Nordhoff students Lesly Bernabe, Faith Green-Roy, Mayra Murillo, Clarissa Perez and Arley Sakai to go on a service learning trip to Thailand. Two of the students gave a short presentation and photo slideshow of their trip, during which they helped construct an elementary school.
Becky Beckett, principal of Chaparral High School, Ojai Adult School, and Ojai Independent School, was honored as OEF Education Hero of the Year. OEF member Linda Burr introduced Beckett. “Becky’s very simple philosophy (is): “Public education is an important means for giving everybody a seat at the table. It is tied to my passion for equity,” Burr said. For her speech, Beckett came up with three words — discomfort, trust, and community — that have defined everything she has done in her career. Beckett said: “Everything that I’ve done with my students that is most memorable has involved quite a bit of discomfort on my part and theirs. But then, adding to that, the trust in each other and ourselves that we can do it and we can make it work; and all of the disasters going through my head are probably not going to happen, most of the time. None of it would’ve been possible without community. Community at the site level, among the students, with their parents and families, with all the staff. But also community partners.”
Her Chaparral hospitality students served the breakfast at the event. Some members of the Nordhoff dance program performed for the assembled crowd during the breakfast.
Near the end, former OEF President Michael Addison explained his view on the importance of public education in the Ojai Valley. Addison said: “We all know the challenges that these young people are going to face as they move into this century. Climate change being the most obvious, economic realities, global poverty, and war … all of these young people are going to have to embrace all of that with their love of live, and we hope their love of learning. If that happens, there’s hope. If that happens, there’s a future. That’s what this is about.”
For a final performance as the even concluded, the Nordhoff Marching Band and Cheer gave a joint performance both on stage and among the crowd.
For more information about OEF and the grants they provide, or to apply for a grant, visit www.ojaied.org.