Education Foundation trivia night raises money for teacher grant
About Eileen Finkel
The Education Foundation of the Summit Eileen Finkel Innovative Teacher Award Grant is named for Eileen Finkel, an educator who dedicated her career to innovation and creativity in education.
Finkel was a full-time resident of Breckenridge from 1998 until her death in 2012. Before retiring and moving to Breckenridge, she was a school administrator in Texas and, prior to that, a special education teacher in Connecticut, Georgia, Pennsylvania and New York City. Finkel was a big believer in supporting education, the arts and her Summit County community.
Finkel and her husband, Paul, made generous financial contributions to help fund the auditorium at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge, which now bears their names, and to purchase a piano for the auditorium. The auditorium offers classes, lectures and musical programs for CMC students and Summit County residents and visitors.
Through the Finkel’s private foundation, F Cubed Foundation, and their donor-advised fund at The Summit Foundation, they supported many other charities, both local and international, including the founding of the Education Foundation of the Summit’s innovative teaching grant, which now bears her name. They also supported scholarships for day care through the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and equipped an entire Nepali community with latrines where none existed previously.
The Education Foundation of the Summit will host its inaugural trivia night, Saturday, April 5, offering us each a chance to put to use all those random facts and figures that clutter up our brains.
The event, held at Beaver Run Resort Conference Center, will pit teams of 10 against one another in a tournament of trumpery, with every dollar going toward funding the Eileen Finkel Innovative Teacher Award Grant.
Changing it up
In prior years, the foundation has hosted an adult spelling bee for its annual fundraiser, but board member Carla Cammarata said the foundation has a new board of directors, and they were looking for fresh ways to connect with the community.
“It was a really awesome event and it’s brought in a lot of money,” Cammarata said of the spelling bee. “But we wanted to try to be more in touch with parents and teachers, and we had a successful survey and received feedback that maybe it was time to change it up a bit, maybe the spelling bee was getting a little bit tired.”
Laura Johnson, marketing and communications director for the foundation, said some people were intimidated by the idea of standing in front of an audience and spelling, but with trivia, everyone can participate. And with the addition of a raffle with some high-end prizes, everyone could have a chance to win.
“It seemed like a great way to get everybody involved,” Johnson said.
Tickets to the event include appetizers and one complementary beer from sponsor Left Hand Brewery. The trivia component of the evening will be held in three rounds, with tables of 10 working as a team to come up with answers to each of the questions.
“We might have a few spelling questions in there for nostalgia, but it will be like trivia at the bars, with a range of questions,” Cammarata said. “There will be a DJ, an MC — it’ll be a pretty lively event — and we’ll be raffling off prizes throughout the night.”
Unlike in past years at the spelling bee, where teams could buy “cheats,” mulligans will not be allowed for the trivia competition. The grand prize for the winning trivia team is a limo ride from Summit County to Left Hand Brewery for a tour, tasting and lunch. Raffle prizes include a pair of Fat-ypus Skis, a couples’ massage, all-terrain vehicle trips, gift certificates to local restaurants, an Arapahoe Basin season pass and day passes, a gift basket from Dillon Ridge Liquors and more.
Funding teacher grants
This is the fourth year the foundation has offered the Eileen Finkel Innovative Teacher Award Grant, which has provided more than $30,000 to local public schools. Past recipients include innovative and creative teacher projects from all of Summit County’s public schools, including e-readers, science lab materials, museum field trips, theater productions and fitness programs.
The foundation works with school administrators to ensure grant proposals are in line with school curricula, but the awards are given by the foundation directly to the teachers, where the money can make the most impact in classrooms.
“Budgets seem to get cut all the time, which is why it was founded in the first place,” Johnson said of the grant. “It’s a way for private citizens to rally and raise money for projects that are getting cut. (The teacher) can come up with the project, ask for the money and run with it.”
Two years ago, the foundation awarded an Innovative Teaching Grant to Ryan Gregory, a first-grade teacher at Summit Cove Elementary School. Gregory used the grant to buy MP3 players for his classroom.
“We had cycled through about three CD players in the past two or three years; they don’t last and the headphones break,” he said. “It’s really tough to have 6- and 7-year-olds play the CDs. My teaching partner and I wanted to come up with something new, so we came up with using iPod Nanos as their source to have everything in one place.”
Gregory said the iPods are more reliable and easier for the children to handle than CDs, and one device can be connected to a headphone splitter for four or five kids to share it at the same time. A parent volunteer helped to load all of the content onto the iPods, including stories, music and word work.
“We’ve got stories that are on and above the kids’ reading level,” Gregory said. “If they are really excited to read the chapter book, but aren’t quite at that reading level yet, they can listen to the story. (Books include) some of the “Magic Treehouse” series, “The Berenstain Bears,” “Frog and Toad” — end of first grade chapter books. We’ve also got some spelling songs and some word work, which is almost along the same lines as spelling for the kids to listen to.”
Having the iPods brings another element of technology to the classroom, Gregory said, and it’s surprising to see how many of the children are already familiar with the functionality of an iPod or iPad.
“It makes the kids want to work toward getting to hear a story on tape,” he said. “They get to have that kind of as a privilege, something that they earn. It changed our organization as teachers. We no longer have to go through and find the next CD, find the net track — it’s all just there and the kids know how to use it.”
Foundation grants have helped teachers in the district in many ways, from new technology to professional development, Gregory said.
“The fact that we can apply it in any innovative way that we see fit as teachers is really great,” he said.
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