Aug. 24, 2004 – The Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School library was filled on Tuesday morning with smiling teachers. One said she had been waiting 20 years to see something like this happen.
The 45 teachers were given checks for $300 apiece to use as they see fit to improve the learning environment in their classrooms.
The grants signal the launching the Public Education Partnership, a program being funded through the St. Croix Financial Center Fund, which is administered by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.
According to Paul H. Saunders, chief executive officer of James River Capital Corp., the St. Croix Financial Center Fund donors — James River Capital Corp. and the Valance Co. — "are excited about the relationship we are starting with Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School. We are very committed to public education on the island of St. Croix and hope that we can help make a difference in the lives of these young students."
Saunders added, "Working together, we hope to create a partnership that others schools and local businesses will want to emulate. We are grateful to the services of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands for all its hard work in getting our partnership off the ground."
Dee Baecher-Brown, CFVI president, to the cheers of those present in the library, announced a second part of the grant: The school will be getting a new copy machine valued at $15,000.
She said there had been some discussion of getting a used copier for the school, but the donors said that the educators deserved the best equipment they could get.
Education Commissioner Noreen Michael and St. Croix schools superintendent Terrence T. Joseph also spoke at the presentation ceremony.
Michael lauded CFVI as an organization committed to improving education and singled out Baecher-Brown for her efforts in making positive things happen in the schools.
Vickie Saunders, who directs charitable giving for James River Capital, said funding for the Pearl B. Larsen donations was made available almost two years ago by her husband and Warren Mosley of the Valence Co.
All of the elementary schools on St. Croix were invited to apply for designation as the school to receive the funds. While Larsen Elementary was chosen, all of the other applicant schools received $1,000 grants.
Vickie Saunders said it was decided to give the Larsen teachers the money to spend as they see fit because "we don't know exactly what they need. We have faith in the teachers."
She said partnership members will monitor how the funds are used during the year. And she said that next year funding might be administered the same way, or "maybe we will decide to do something totally different."
The St. Croix Financial Center Fund is one of 70 named funds administered by CFVI.
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