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Oxford School Foundation Approaches Goal, Appreciates Generosity

Courtesy Oxford School District
Courtesy Oxford School District

The Oxford School District Foundation (OSDF) will commemorate 30 years of support for local students and teachers next year, but this year the organization is already celebrating.  OSDF has set a record for membership and fundraising and is on track for reaching its goal of signing up 200 members for the 2015-16 school year.

“Membership stands at 186,” said OSDF President-Elect Allyson Best.  The group has been using word-of-mouth, a letter-writing campaign and social media to push hard for the last 14 individuals, families or businesses to join.

If the group makes its goal of signing on 200 members this year, it could grant teachers as much as $45,000 to help make classrooms more innovative and engaging for students next year.  One particularly generous gift in recent years has come from former Oxford Alderman Jay Hughes.  Hughes, who is now representing District 12 in the state legislature, began donating his city salary to OSDF in 2013.

“Foremost, I saw my job as alderman as public service, as a way to give back to the community,” said Hughes of his donation.  “I wanted to contribute in a way most consistent with what I felt was a strength in our community and an opportunity to make it better.  OSDF represents that hope and strength for better education in Oxford.”

Best says every member and every donation matters; however, the group certainly values having an elected official backing the school system in such a concrete way.

“Jay’s gift was transformative in so many ways.  His generosity contributed to some of our most productive years,” said Best. “We appreciate such a public commitment to the Foundation’s long-term success.”

Right now, OSDF Is accepting proposals from Oxford teachers who will compete for the group’s annual Awards for Teacher Innovation.  The award money pays for tools and resources that the school district couldn’t otherwise afford and allows teachers to experiment with new ways to promote learning.  Last year, the group awarded approximately $34,000 for projects supporting learning in areas such as science, reading and geography.

Hughes says anything that improves the educational environment for Mississippi students is a priority.

“So many of the problems we face in this state – whether it’s nutrition, obesity, poverty – it all begins with education,” Hughes said.  “You can look at any of those problems, including economic development, and a stronger K-12 education with quality teachers turning out more work- and college-ready high school graduates would dramatically and immediately impact our toehold on 50th place.”

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