Third 2017 Golden Apple Awardee Announced

We presented the third of four 2017 Golden Apple Awards to Kathee Kunke, Operations Assistant at College Hill High School today. Congratulations, Kathee!

A brief excerpt from her nomination: “In the world of alternative education, creativity and thinking outside the box are our guiding principles. We need to be sure that we are doing whatever it takes to ensure the success of every student. Kathee is at the heart of our creative efforts at College Hill, but she also keeps us in line with the law, district policy, and the best interest of the student. She keeps our building safe, secure, and beautiful. Often staying late and taking on tasks that most staff do not even know about, Kathee is willing to give of herself in deep, sacrificial ways to provide opportunities for all staff and students to experience success.

Every student in our building knows who Kathee Kunke is, but more importantly every student is known by her. Kathee not only greets every student, every morning, by name, she connects with them. No student is invisible to her! Kathee’s ability to listen to our students, to know our students, and recall specific details in each of their young lives is astonishing…. As our building’s OA she is inexhaustible in her willingness to support all staff members. From making appointments, to ordering classroom materials, to lining up transportation and lunches for fieldtrips, to solving tech issues, her list goes on and on how she truly makes all of our jobs easier…. We would not be the program we are without Kathee.”

Second 2017 Golden Apple Awardee Announced

We surprised Sarah Thompson at Lincoln Elementary School with the second of four 2017 Golden Apple awards this morning. Congratulations, Sarah!

Her nominee writes, “Sarah Thompson is magic, plain and simple. She uses data and love to drive all of her instruction. She collaborates with everyone in the building to ensure equity in learning opportunities for ALL kids. Her success is evident in our building data, and more importantly, in the smiles of the kids she works with.

Ms. Thompson has a unique relationship with EVERY student who is lucky enough to have her in their classroom. Her level of enthusiasm is unparalleled – in everything she does! She leads our assembly dances, as well as weekly Zumba Intercambio classes – the chance for parent Spanish-speakers and English-speakers to dance together and practice language together. She spends her spare time finding new and engaging ways to learn WITH the kids, and is always current on latest research and teaching techniques in her field. You would be hard-pressed to find someone more passionate or dedicated to helping language learners. Sarah has been an incredible gift to Lincoln, and her positive impact on students will last far past their time spent here.”

Sarah is shown below with her parents and fiance, Foundation Executive Director Liv Gifford, Superintendent Ryan Noss, and Mr. Ken Pastega.

First 2017 Golden Apple Awardee Announced

We presented the first of four 2017 Golden Apple Awards to Amanda Filloy Sharp this morning for her outstanding contributions to Corvallis High School. Congratulations, Amanda!

A passionate and gifted teacher, Amanda not only coordinates the CHS dual language immersion (DLI) program, but she personifies it. She devoted countless hours to developing the DLI program, creating the curriculum and developing the capstone class as a culminating experience for DLI seniors. Amanda is a champion of bi-literacy and was a leader at the state and district level in making the Seal of Bi-Literacy a reality for our graduating students.

Clearly, Amanda does a lot for her program. More important, though, is what she does for her students. Amanda intuitively and authentically connects with students, she models a culturally-responsive and respectful classroom, and she challenges her students to take responsibility for their learning. Amanda is a champion for diversity and equity and is universally respected by students, parents, and staff.

Foundation thanks supporters of Hands Across Corvallis breakfast

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation would like to thank the individuals and businesses that helped make our recent “Hands Across Corvallis” benefit breakfast a success. This event, held on February 3rd at Corvallis High School, garnered support for enrichment grants, academic interventions, and students navigating poverty.

Our grand sponsors, without whom the event would not have been possible, included Oregon State Credit Union, Subaru of Corvallis, CH2M Hill, and Wells Fargo Advisors. Other sponsors were Benton County Schools Credit Union, Citizens Bank, Corvallis Radiology, Devco Engineering, Footwise, Horsepower Productions, Les Schwab Tire Centers, Precision Approach Engineering, Special Occasions, Town & Country Realty, Woodstock Enterprises, and The Barbers. Thanks also to Kate Lynch and her Forks & Corks Catering team for providing breakfast. We commend all of these businesses for their support of local schools.

Many 509J students helped make the event memorable, especially Jonathan Rodriguez and Brian Ixtlahuac of the Corvallis High School Class of 2016, who made powerful and heartfelt speeches. Thanks also to the Corvallis High School Leadership students for greeting and assisting guests, Linus Pauling Middle School art students and their teacher Claudia Hall for providing centerpieces for the tables, and CVTV broadcast media students for recording footage of speakers. Crescent Valley High School senior David So of f/4 films and fotography shared his photographic talents.

To the 260 guests who braved the freezing rain to join us for breakfast, we thank you for your generosity and enthusiasm.

Bill Humphreys, Jr., Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Liv Gifford, Executive Director

Foundation grants $62,600 to schools this fall

We are pleased to provide $37,600 for projects and programs and $25,000 for students experiencing poverty and homelessness across the district.

These grants reflect the Foundation’s efforts to reduce barriers to education for low-income students, improve graduation rates, and offer enrichment opportunities across all Corvallis public schools.

Grants will support a wide array of projects across 12 schools, from art and music, to literacy, science, specialty equipment, and professional development for teachers. Some will fund programs designed to boost graduation rates, such as AVID and after-school tutoring.

“We are pleased to direct resources toward areas that are making a real difference for students,” said Foundation Chair Bill Humphreys, Jr. “These funds a critical part of how the Foundation supports our schools through innovative programs and professional development opportunities.”

While funds for students navigating poverty are allocated to schools according to need, classroom and school grants are awarded through a competitive application process. Applicants are asked to demonstrate the importance of the project and impact on student learning. Priority is given to projects that will benefit the greatest number of students and that can be shared with other teaching professionals.

$25,000 in foundation funds are designated to assist students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch or who are experiencing housing instability. These funds provide support for health and hygiene supplies, tutoring, food, clothing, and other resources to facilitate full participation in school.

Thank you to all our donors and supporters for making these grants possible!




Goals Statement: Celebrating 20 years

Dear reader:

This year, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation is commemorating its 20th anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have:

  • Channeled nearly $10 million in private donations into public schools across Corvallis
  • Provided nearly $500,000 in small grants to teachers
  • Awarded more than 80 Golden Apple Awards to outstanding teachers and staff
  • Supported students experiencing poverty in numerous small and large ways.

As we take stock of how we have evolved as an organization, we offer this set of goals for growth and impact in the coming years:

  • Expand our Learning Enrichment Grants program for teachers/staff (grants of $200-$1,000)
  • Add a category of larger grants for district administrators and principals (grants of $1,000 to $5,000)
  • Sustain our support for summer programs (approximately $45,000 per year)
  • Seek ever more effective avenues of supporting students navigating poverty and housing instability.

This fall we also launched the Better World Endowment for Equity and Inclusion with an initial gift of $50,000 from Gifts for a Better World. We are committed to matching this seed money over the next two years to ensure that we have a means — from now on — of supporting historically underserved and underrepresented students.

Our priorities — especially equity and excellence — are shaped and guided by our Board of Trustees and our ongoing collaboration with the Corvallis School District. They reflect our commitment to our donor community to assess and address needs across 13 schools, and to do what we can to create pathways to graduation for each and every student.

Thank you for your support as we embark on our next 20 years.


Liv Gifford, Executive Director

Foundation announces search for oldest surviving teacher

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation announced today that the search is on for the most senior former teacher from the Corvallis School District.

The quest for the community’s oldest teacher is part of the Foundation’s preparations for its annual “Hands Across Corvallis” breakfast, scheduled for February 3, 2017 at Corvallis High School.

“We are excited to be celebrating the contributions of former 509J teachers,” said Bill Humphreys, Jr., Foundation Chair. “This is a wonderful opportunity to hear stories from years past in our schools.”

To be eligible, candidates must reside locally and have taught in Corvallis Public Schools for a decade or more. The top two or three selectees will be invited to attend the Foundation’s benefit breakfast on February 3rd, where they will be recognized.

Early accounts of Corvallis history suggest that the first school began in 1850 in a one-room log schoolhouse near the Willamette River at the end of Washington Street. Enrollment was about 100 students. The school district now serves approximately 6,600 students at thirteen schools. Corvallis students represent numerous birth countries and over 50 languages.

Candidates for the oldest teacher honor are invited to send letters to Corvallis Public Schools Foundation at 1555 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333, or email Foundation Executive Director Liv Gifford at

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation was founded in 1996 with the mission to unite private donors with educators in order to provide the best possible education for all students. The Foundation works to reduce barriers to education for students navigating poverty, expand excellence through enrichment opportunities, and create pathways to graduation for every student. For more information, visit

New fund supports equity and inclusion

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation invites you to help launch our new cornerstone fund, the Better World Endowment, dedicated to equity and inclusion in education. This fund will uphold the core values of human well-being, economic independence, environmental stewardship, and social justice for generations to come. The fund will support the following:

  • Full participation in school for students navigating poverty and homelessness.
  • Programs geared toward supporting emerging multilingual students, such as summer programs that boost academic vocabulary and ease the transition to middle or high school.
  • Teacher-designed projects that specifically address equity and inclusion and offer enrichment opportunities to historically underserved students.

To learn more, download a full description of the Better_World_Endowment. You may also contact our office at (541)757-5857 or donate now. Thank you!

Foundation announces grants for summer programs

The Corvallis Public Schools Foundation announced today that it is providing $45,700 in grants across six schools for summer programs. These funds are expected to serve about 375 students from 2nd through 12th grade. This is the fourth year the Foundation has supported academic interventions during the summer, but some of programs they are funding this year are new.

At Mountain View Elementary, a small group of 2nd graders will be invited to come back to school in August to strengthen their reading and math skills. “These students will clearly benefit from small group instruction not only to improve their skills in literacy and math, but also to avoid the dreaded summer slide,” said Mountain View Principal Lisa Krause, who added that the school will be providing bus transportation for students to facilitate attendance.

Fourth and 5th graders at Wilson Elementary will have an opportunity to boost foundational math and literacy skills. The program will use a combination of technology and hands-on activities designed to boost students’ confidence as learners. “Wilson has no shortage of students experiencing the impact of poverty and mobility,” said Principal Eric Beasley. “Additional opportunities to learn will make a difference for our kids.”

Linus Pauling Middle School will host up to 60 students at their summer math camp in August. Teachers will collaborate with Garfield and Lincoln Elementary School staff to identify incoming 6th graders that will benefit from a supportive summer program. “More than half of the students who need interventions are Spanish-speaking Latino students enrolled in the dual language immersion programs,” explained Principal Alicia Ward-Satey. “Bilingual support is critical for this class.”

The new English Language Learner Newcomer Prep at Corvallis High School will also serve bilingual students. The goal of Newcomer Prep is to refresh speaking and listening skills after a summer of communicating solely in students’ home language. “The idea behind this program is to ease the transition for our students of color who are English language learners,” CHS Assistant Principal Paul Navarra explained.

In 2013, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation adopted a strategic vision to help more Corvallis students stay on track for high school graduation. Since that time, graduation rates in Corvallis have climbed from 67.5 to 86 percent, due in part to programs like AVID, math and writing camps, and credit recovery. Data indicate that students who are not meeting grade level proficiencies in elementary and middle school will continue to lag as they advance to high school, underscoring the importance of providing resources at middle and elementary school levels as well.

“We are grateful to our donors for making these programs possible,” said Corvallis Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Liv Gifford. “Our community continues to show incredible support for kids.”