This year, the award-winning Tyler Independent School District Foundation will hit the ground running  for its annual community campaign.
“Our first part of our campaign has been a quiet campaign of contacting our loyal donors and employees of Tyler ISD,” said Tom Slack, chairman of the Foundation Board and President and Owner of Lone Star Third Party Administrators.  “To date, we have raised between $75,000 and $100,000.”
The donations will help the Foundation’s mission of classroom, campus and district grants including events such as Teacher of the Year, Convocation, Retirement events as well as the nationally-recognized, “A Night of Shining Stars.”
“Every donation goes toward our mission of providing additional resources to benefit the opportunities for our teachers and students,” stated Slack, a board member for 8 years and President for the past 3 years.
The Tyler ISD Employee Drive will continue through February 2012—and at least one donor will receive an IPad from the Foundation.
“We are encouraged by the participation of Tyler ISD employees—we always start their campaign before we go out to the community in order to provide security that the employees of Tyler ISD are working with the Foundation as teammates,” said Larry Goddard, executive director. “Also, we are proud to say that 100% of our 28 member board of directors have made donations or pledges—we can confidently ask donations from others when we have made substantial commitments as well.”
The foundation has also been conducting a search for historical memorabilia related to Tyler ISD’s past.  The tax-deductible items will be displayed in the Tyler ISD Alumni Visitors Center in the Tyler ISD Foundation’s office space in the Blackstone Building.
“We have collected yearbooks, class rings, letter jackets—all with great sentimental value but also they are priceless for our current students and recent alumni to view,” explained Goddard.  “We are finding many benevolent folks in Tyler—we had a box of chalk donated and, that’s funny but chalk is now antique!”
The first event will be held Thursday, November 3rd, with the “It’s NOT a Box” Campaign Kick Off Luncheon, Willow Brook Country Club, at 11:13 a.m.  The invitation-only event is designed for guests who may not be aware of the Foundation’s work and achievements.
Beth Guinn, Kim Farrell, Lisa Preddy, Shelley Calhoun, Gay Smith and Jeanelle Maland have served as the luncheon planning committee.
“Students who have been impacted by grants along with their teachers and administrators will be the program for our event, “said Goddard.  “The best speakers to tell our story of the Tyler ISD Foundation are Tyler ISD students.”
The Foundation is creating a charter award—the Honor Roll—with the first five recipients to be announced at the luncheon.  Honorees will be selected from Tyler ISD employees, donors and leaders of the Foundation, members of the community who volunteer for the Foundation and distinguished alumni.
“We are keeping the announcement of the Honor Roll recipients a secret this first year and we plan to recognize outstanding members of the Foundation’s progress every year—this is not for the donor who gives the most money—although you know we appreciate them!,” said Goddard, “But, we plan to honor not only those who receive a lot of attention, but also award folks who are behind the scenes—maybe they are unable to write the large checks with many zeroes but they donate time and other skills to help us,” said Goddard.  Approximately five or six awards will be given this year as the program is unveiled.  Recipients will be given gold watches donated for the majority of costs by Murphey the Jeweler II on Troup Highway.
The kickoff campaign will be hosted by the Robert E. Lee High School cheerleader squad and welcomed by entertainment from the John Tyler High School orchestra.  The theme of the luncheon is based on the book, “It’s Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis.
Antoinette Portis holds an art degree from UCLA; she is a former creative director in Disney Consumer Products. Her children’s book has won numerous awards; it’s been named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, as well as one of New York Public Library’s “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”. And it’s easy to see why. The high-contrast of the black and white illustrations of the bunny in the box versus the bright red and yellow answer pages highlights the differing perspectives. The little bunny’s expressive ears tell so much of the story; these clear illustrations mean that children who can’t read yet will be able to the book all by themselves, too.
Not a Box presents a good opportunity for discussion, imagination, and interaction. Children and parents can guess what the bunny is pretending to be or do before turning the page. And perhaps most creatively of all, Not a Box makes for a good jumping off point, in that kids can be inspired to look at their own cardboard box and see more than a box. Even better, parents and kids can play “let’s pretend” together.
Speakers will represent grants from the Foundation from Pre-K Special Needs classroom, to Middle School Electronic Parenting, Advancement via Individualized Determination (AVID), technological advancements in elementary school libraries and performance arts with travel opportunities.
The next event will be on November 7th–the 18th Annual Gil Hitt Memorial, 11 a.m. lunch; 12 noon introductions and announcements, and 12:15 p.m. tee time at Hollytree Country Club.  Russell Patterson, Slack and Goddard have co-chaired the six player shamble style tourney and hope to net a profit of $50,000, making the golf tourney the highest single day fundraiser for the Foundation.
The same week, on Thursday, November 10th, the Junior League of Tyler, Inc. teams with Tyler ISD and the Tyler ISD Foundation for the RED, WHITE and BLUE Patriotic Grant Day.  It is the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps and the day before Veteran’s Day.  Volunteers will take oversized checks (with an American Flag on the background thanks to FastSigns)—to the classroom with the theme “America’s Heroes Salute Our Classroom Heroes”.
“It’s a fun day for us to make noise in the hallways!  And we hope to have some servicemen and women go with us to present the grant award to the teacher in front of their students,” said Goddard who will be Uncle Sam this year. “The innovative grants are programs not typically funded by tax dollars but help expand the learning opportunities for the students—and it is great for the students to applaud their teachers for their accomplishments on the students’ behalf.”
Donations to the Foundation may be mailed to:  Tyler ISD Foundation, 315 North Broadway, Suite 401, Tyler, Texas 75702 or email or