Principal Jennifer Patterson encourages school participation in WL-WV education foundation campaign

When the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation launched its spring fundraising effort, the Count Me In campaign, its message was that every donation counts. Students at Boones Ferry Primary School have taken that message to heart, according to Principal Jennifer Patterson.

Along with some Boones Ferry parents, Patterson attended a kickoff meeting April 16, where attendees learned more about the foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides funds to the WL-WV school district for the sole purpose of funding teaching positions. Over the past three years, the foundation has contributed about $450,000 for that purpose.

At the kickoff meeting, the foundation’s president, Jay Puppo, emphasized that although raising money was the Count campaign’s primary goal, the foundation board was emphasizing its goal of increased participation too.

“We want people to know who we are and what we’re doing,” Puppo said.

“That was very inspiring,” Patterson said. “The Boones Ferry families that were there came back and said, ‘How can we get the word out? ... There is no reason we can’t have strong participation.”

Experience had taught Patterson that the best way to engage families is to offer some form of recognition to children.

The strategy is visible on the doors of classrooms throughout the school, in the form of small blue handprints everywhere.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - From left, Rosie Killelea, Wyatt Butler and Ella Nielsen each made a contribution to the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundations fundraising campaign and received a colorful hand to post outside their fourth-grade classroom door.“They’re literally trying to get every kid to count,” the foundation’s president, Jay Puppo, said. “If I student will bring a donation of any amount in, they will get this cutout of a hand. They can take that hand to their classroom and tape it around their teacher’s door. It’s a kind of a love gift to their teacher, (saying), ‘You’re a great teacher, and we’re giving some money to the foundation because we love teachers.’”

Boones Ferry kids are taking a personal interest, according to Patterson.

“In the past, the contributions kind of bypassed the school,” she said. “I feel it much more strongly this year. Children’s sense of joy and pride is much more palpable.”

This week, Boones Ferry students will again be encouraged to bring in a donation for the education foundation. Individual classrooms and grade-level “porch” communities will set their own participation goals and play to meet them.

“We’re not really focused on ‘how much’ but on that everyone participate,” Patterson SPOKESMAN PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - David Lopez does some calculations and then expresses his classs participation in the Count campaign three ways: as a decimal, as a percentage and as a fraction.

Of course, not all students and classrooms needed the encouragement. Students in Kristin Weber’s fourth-grade class were taking the participation challenge seriously. And they were determined to have higher participation than their arch-rivals, the fourth-graders in Sean DeGregorio’s class.

Weber was quick to identify — and seize — the learning opportunities embedded in the friendly competition. Each morning, after students turned in their donations, students calculated their class participation in three ways: by decimal, by percent and as a fraction of the class population.

After the fourth day of the campaign, Weber’s 25-student class was already at an enviable 56 percent participation.

“That’s pretty impressive,” Patterson noted.

The foundation’s Count Me In campaign was off to a strong start, Puppo said. The personal touch at schools like Boones Ferry could be part of that, with their individual focus.

“Know your school. Support your school. Everyone can make a difference,” Patterson said.


By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
503-636-1281, ext. 112
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