TEF campaign

The Telluride Education Foundation is launching a new campaign, and it’s already raised $11,000, as of press time Friday. For more information, visit tellurideeducation.org/tcc. (Courtesy image)

School during the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t only been different in the classroom. Providing essentials to successfully navigate an academic year that includes limited class sizes, online learning capabilities and proper public health protocols requires more than just sweat equity, which Telluride School District and officials have in spades. The bottom line is that it comes to the bottom line. 

The state cut funding by nearly $1 million for the current school year. While the CARES Act provided some money for the district, expenses are expected to be $500,000 short, as the district is looking at a total deficit of $1.5 million this year, according to a Telluride Education Foundation news release.  

That’s why the foundation is launching its Telluride Compassion Campaign Tuesday in an effort to raise community awareness and financial support for the “unique needs of our schools and to provide support to our local business community” during the pandemic. It’s also a way to foster compassion, kindness and gratitude throughout our community. Everyone knows we can always use some off that, especially during 2020. 

“What the school is doing to stay open and provide a safe environment for students and staff is nothing short of herculean,” said. Mary Lynne Chambers, district facilities coordinator. “And that goes for everyone from the kitchen staff, who are cooking and then preparing bagged versions of hot lunches for everyone; to the finance office who are conducting business, but also delivering those meals to TES and TIS classrooms; to all the parent volunteers who are helping us open the school on time each morning and helping to manage the outdoor eating facility; to operations crew who in addition to the normal maintenance requests are faced with countless classroom accommodations, working with consultants to assure a safe work and school environment, tent constructions, constant refills of disinfectants, the list goes on; to special IT requests; and, of course, the untold pressures on the teachers and principals and administrators. So to say that every employee here is enduring tremendous stress, mostly with a smile, is an understatement.”

Again, some compassion, kindness and gratitude can go a long way this year. 

“How might we go about doing that? Every donor, whether monetary or ‘in-kind,’ will receive a heart to put in their window, a heart flag or a heart sign for their yard. We want the district faculty and community to come together during this challenging time and for everyone to share compassion and gratitude with one another,” said Toni Nash, the president of the Telluride Education Foundation. 

The Telluride Compassion Campaign is providing lunches for the teachers and faculty once a month to say “thank you,” as well as organizing volunteers who can help periodically during this time to give teachers a much-needed break.

“Be kind to a teacher, principal or school worker. They’ve all been working twice as hard for the same pay. Show them some love,” said Dylan Brooks, treasurer and secretary of Telluride’s Board of Education.

In addition to the needs of the school, the foundation is also addressing the needs of the parents who are looking at how to support students through distance and hybrid learning by providing workshops on “Parent Coaching during Covid.”

In supporting local businesses, the foundation is looking to hire food service providers that would like to provide lunches or breakfast for teachers and faculty. The foundation is also giving faculty members gift certificates from local retailers. 

“We want to keep our Telluride employees working during the offseason. When we heard about all of the needs of the school community, we knew we needed to help in a big way. That is why we created the compassion campaign. It’s a lofty goal, and it will take everyone’s help to execute. If you are in Telluride to live, work, educate or play, then you are a part of our community,” Nash said. 

The foundation is also looking for volunteers. 

“If you have the means and desire to support our schools, sign up to be a part of our volunteer community and make donations by visiting tellurideeducation.org/tcc” said Stephanie Hatcher, president of the board of education.

For more information, contact Nash at tonipnash@gmail.com or 512-656-3334. To learn more about the campaign and how you can help, visit tellurideeducation.org/tcc.