DANIEL JOHNSON AND DAN JOHNSON
INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May 3, 2022
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is excited about resuming its Barn Talks in May after suspending the speaker series during the pandemic.
“With the lift of mask mandates at schools beginning on March 14 and the return of in-person events and fundraisers throughout Sonoma Valley, we feel comfortable resuming the Barn Talks speaker series,” said Angela Ryan, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.
Kori Schake, a Sonoma Valley High School alumnus who is now a national security and NATO expert, will discuss “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” with Andy Gibson, chair of the history department at SVHS who is also an alumnus of the school. The event will be held at Sebastiani Theatre on Monday, May 9, and will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the discussion at 7 p.m. Typically, Barn Talks receptions serve as a gathering time for alumni who come to hear a classmate speak. Several of Schake’s classmates plan to be at the event. The last Barn Talk took place on Feb. 20, 2020, featuring historian Gaye LeBaron and former Index-Tribune publisher/editor Bill Lynch. The talks are the brainchild of Laura Stanfield, a parent of four SVHS alumni, and Gail Diserens and Megan Kaplan, members of the school’s class of 1980. They created Barn Talks to serve as a speaker series that showcases SVHS alumni and to connect interesting graduates with current high school students.
Besides Schake, LeBaron and Lynch, other past speakers have included quantum physicist Charlie Marcus, former Salesforce Executive Vice President David Havlek, Salesforce Executive Vice President Meredith Schmidt, retired U.S. Army Col. Jeff Martindale and actor/comedian Brian Posehn. “We’re always looking for interesting speakers from varied careers that are comfortable speaking to large audiences,” Ryan said. “We’re in communication with former school principal and alumnus Bob Kruljac, who has been managing the selection of the Dragon Hall of Fame since 2008.” The Barn Talks have been held in barns throughout Sonoma Valley, some more than 100 years old. The Barn at the Vadasz Family Vineyard, Cuneo Barn, Tyge Williams Barn, The Old Redwood Barn at Gundlach Bundschu Winery and Broadway Farms Barn have hosted the events. Attendance is predicated by the size of the barn, but typically ranges from 100 to 250 people.
INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
April 27, 2022
She’s one of the world’s preeminent foreign policy experts, having served in leadership positions on the staffs of Gen. Colin Powell and Sen. John McCain as well as for some of the nation’s top policy organizations, but back in the 1970s she was a self-described “dreamy, impractical kid” at Sonoma Valley High School after attending Altimira Middle School and El Verano Elementary School. And quite literally, she’s coming soon to a theater near you.
She’s Kori Schake, and she’s returning to her roots to share her expertise during a presentation at Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma on the topic, “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” on Monday, May 9. Schake will be conversing with Andy Gibson, chair of the history department at SVHS who is also an alumnus of the school. The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the discussion at 7 p.m.
The presentation is part of Barn Talks, a series of events presented by the Barn Talks team, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and SVHS that began in 2017 featuring alumni who have made notable accomplishments in their fields. Angela Ryan, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, is particularly excited about featuring Schake to kick off the renewed series. “We’re thrilled and honored Kori has been added Barn Talks to her West Coast trip schedule,” Ryan said. “The convergence of the mask mandate being lifted from schools, Kori’s visit to the West Coast, and her unique expertise on the Ukraine conflict and world events make her an ideal speaker at this time.”
Sonoma Valley Education Foundation Evolves 2022 Red & White Ball Gala Format to Community Celebration
Sonoma, Calif. (April 26, 2021) - The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) announced today that its signature fundraising event would return to in-person this coming August 27, taking place in its usual location, the Sonoma Plaza, though this year it will unveil a new format. The traditional gala is being replaced with a community celebration, including a picnic-style dining experience, dancing, and the opportunity for families, donors, and community members to connect and unify around Sonoma’s public schools.
“After two years of successful fundraising in a remote capacity, we felt compelled to reimagine this popular fundraiser and evolve it into a platform that not only better reflects and celebrates the community we serve, but safeguards from untimely cancellations due to fire season or pandemic-related shutdowns,” said Angela Ryan, Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. “We’re thrilled that the generosity of our donors has given us the confidence to host a more inclusive event that helps families, donors, and the community at large feel more invested, engaged, and connected to our public schools and one another.”
The event will take place from 5 pm - 10 pm in the Sonoma Plaza, where families and community members have the opportunity to come together and enjoy a picnic in the park that directly benefits Sonoma Valley public schools. The $40 ticket price includes a reusable wine tumbler, a complimentary glass of wine, and a picnic blanket. Ticket sales open in June, and a sliding scale pricing will be available to ensure the event is accessible to all.
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) Parent-Teacher Organizations and partner organizations, including Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Kimzin Creative and Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance will be in attendance with booths highlighting the great things happening at schools and programs made possible by donor support to SVEF.
The evening will conclude with a dance party and performance by local band Funk Fatale.
“We are beyond excited to keep the elements of this annual event that our community has loved, while also evolving its format to feel more welcoming and inclusive,” said Gail Chadwin, Director of Development for SVEF. “The nature in which fundraising has progressed over the past two years allows us to reengage the community we’re here to serve and invite families to feel more invested and connected to supporting our schools and community.”
For more information on the event and how to participate, please get in touch with Sarah Carroll at email@example.com
About Sonoma Valley Education Foundation
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) was established in 1993 and has since provided over 20 million dollars to Sonoma Valley public schools through grants to teachers and administration, sponsored community initiatives, and meaningful programming such as Summer Literacy Academy, Preschool For All, and more. As the primary fundraising and volunteer resource for Sonoma Valley Unified School District, SVEF strives to enrich the student experience and help Valley youth succeed in the classroom and beyond. For more information, please visit https://www.svgreatschools.org
I’m writing today because I want to share a wonderful story–about how you are helping both teachers and students!
Your generosity to Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is making fully-subsidized preschool possible for 104 young students throughout our community. But your impact doesn’t stop there. You are also helping teachers.
Kristen Carlson is a teacher at Sassarini Elementary School. We talked with her about how preschool not only prepares individual students for success, but also benefits their peers and their teachers–especially in kindergarten classrooms.
According to Kristen, “From my experience teaching kindergarten, I could definitely notice some differences between children who had attended preschool versus those who had not.
“The biggest difference I saw was social-emotional. The students that had attended preschool were less apprehensive and more so ready to jump in socially. They were able to communicate with peers and easily learned procedures because they had practiced in preschool.”
There are also clear academic benefits as well. Kristen notes, “Students who attended preschool had been exposed to books, numbers, and letters, which was a big advantage. Also, they often had more developed fine motor skills because they had practiced cutting and gluing, pencil holding, and sensory play.”
Kristen goes on to highlight the critical importance of preschool in our community.
“If preschools weren't available it would be a huge loss for children, and for kindergarten teachers,” says Kristen. “Kindergarten teachers would essentially have to back up and teach all those essential skills students gain from attending preschool. It would be a tremendous step back in school readiness.”
“Bottom line, preschool is IMPORTANT and needed! In my opinion, it’s the most important thing we should provide for our children!”
Thank you for supporting local teachers like Kristen and their students. If you’d like to help another teacher today, you can click here.
Thank you for helping both local teachers and our community’s youngest learners!
Angela Ryan, Ph.D
The Red and White Ball is the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, helping to fund Classroom Grants.
(Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
The following press release was published in the Sonoma Index Tribune December 3, 2021:
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is well known for helping teachers out with grants to cover field trips, special projects and other classroom needs. This month, they decided to double the amount that school staff can apply for, from $500 to $1,000. The nonprofit also will expand the funding guidelines to allow teachers to apply for continuing education opportunities.
This longstanding grant program enables teachers a one-time grant to accommodate a creative learning opportunity or project that benefits students but falls outside schools’ standard operating budgets.
“It’s no secret that teachers have carried an enormous workload over the past two years, both navigating distance learning during the pandemic and now working tirelessly to help students catch up,” said Angela Ryan, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. “Which is why we are expanding this year’s grant process to include not only increased funding per teacher but also continuing education opportunities for educators. We hope our generous community in Sonoma Valley will join us in supporting this initiative to ensure that we can award every application we receive from our hardworking teachers.”
Past Classroom Grant recipients have used funds for innovative projects, including a Sassarini teacher who invited a children’s book author to visit the school and give copies of her book to all students, El Verano painting its blacktop with bright and colorful games and labyrinths, Sassarini students who received trumpets to take home and use for online lessons during COVID, and a Prestwood teacher creating a calming nook in her classroom for kids with big feelings called a Peace Corner.
This year’s expansion to include continuing education for teachers is a unique addition, with positive long-term impacts on both the teachers expanding their professional expertise, along with the students that benefit from the most up-to-date teaching and learning strategies and applications.
In addition, the amount awarded to the recipient will double, making this the first time in Classroom Grants history that teachers will receive up to $1,000. Increasing the funds awarded creates a significant opportunity for teachers to dream big and secure funding for projects, resources and experiences that local youth would otherwise not receive.
The donation period is officially open and through the generosity of two SVEF board members, all donations made during December will be matched, up to $20,000.
For more information about Classroom Grants or to donate, visit svgreatschools.org or contact Gail Chadwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on November 17, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation went national this morning in a big way — a message of thanks on the huge Nasdaq Tower on Manhattan’s Times Square. Executive Director Angela Ryan coordinated the salute in honor of American Education Week.
“We know our educators, school administrators, and staff have been doing their jobs under extraordinary circumstances since the beginning of the pandemic and continue to face the aftermath of distance learning today,” Ryan said. “To express our gratitude for their sustained and tremendous commitment to students, we wanted to find the most public stage to express our appreciation, and what better place to do that than Times Square in New York City.”
Ryan urged the Sonoma Valley community to “celebrating the many good people who work tirelessly to help our youth remain successful and engaged despite an unprecedented year of learning.”
The following article was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune September 28, 2021
Money will benefit Valley’s public schools, teachers and students
INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF REPORT
Raising $400,000 for Valley schools, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation wrapped its signature Red & White Ball fundraiser, surpassing the revenue generated in 2020. The marker is especially impressive as this is the second year the fundraiser was all virtual, instead of the beloved gala on the Plaza.
'As uncertainty remains ever-present in our lives, I'm moved that we continually find a steadfast certainty in our local community to show up for youth in Sonoma Valley,' said Angela Ryan, executive director of the education foundation. 'Hosting a cornerstone event like the Red & WhiteBall virtually for the second year in a row and still seeing such a generous output gives us the confidence to creatively reimagine fundraising moving forward. We are filled with gratitude for the generosity of our supporters who are making expanded programming a reality for students.'
The virtual fundraising utilized double and triple match days, along with an online auction to raise funds. Donors who made a gift of $250 or more had an opportunity to pick up their Red & White Ball party bag in the Plaza horseshoe or donate the bag to a local teacher as a thank you for all they've done throughout the pandemic and for local students in general.
The $400,000 raised will be “creatively and strategically” directed to areas where the pandemic has impacted students. That will include programs and opportunities to help recapture 'beyond the bell' learning and social-emotional development, including all-day preschool at Sassarini, expanded after-school opportunities and arts education.
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) was established in 1993 and has since provided over $20 million dollars to Sonoma Valley public schools through grants to teachers and administration, sponsored community initiatives, and meaningful programming such as Summer Literacy Academy, Preschool For All. and more.
For more information, visit svgreatschools.org.
The following was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune September 24, 2021
Eat at CaliForno, raise money for the Ed Foundation
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Airstream food truck is giving back to public schools
By KATHLEEN HILL
INDEX-TRIBUNE FOOD AND WINE EDITOR
CaliForno, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Airstream “food truck,” will help the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation with a month long “Dine and Donate” program. The Fairmont will donate $1 for every entree purchased on Friday and Saturday evenings from CaliForno throughout the month of October.
According to Michelle Heston of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, “The Education Foundation will use funds raised from this promotion to help fund classroom grants throughout public schools. These grants help teachers to purchase extra supplies, fund field trips and engage in personal development classes.
“The shiny, Airstream kitchen serves seasonally inspired Sonoma street eats – bringing food truck cuisine to a whole new level. CaliForno serves on the resort front lawns, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m.
Live music is from 5 to 8 p.m., weather permitting.”
Currently the menu includes roasted squash and green chili quesadillas, garlic prawn tostadas, salt and pepper calamari, Parmesan truffle fries, an artisan cheese plate with candied almonds and apples, charred corn Caprese, their very green grilled cheese with brie and avocado, a fried chicken sandwich with spicy coleslaw, char siu pork buns, Dungeness crab melt on Fridays, poke bowls, a s’mores kit and ice cream sandwiches. ($10 to $18).
Guests can enjoy their purchases around fire pits or at socially distanced picnic tables.
Call 938-9000 for more info.
CaliForno is the Airstream food truck that parks outside the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn on Fridays and Saturdays.
The following was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune August 16, 2021
Red & White Ball goes back online for 2021
Without the typical Red & White Ball on the Plaza, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is urging donors to go online.
(Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
August 16, 2021, 3:00PM
The popular Red & White Ball, an annual celebration of our schools, is once again taking its fundraising goals online this year due to the pandemic, with activities to watch throughout August. Honoring the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, donations will benefit student-focused initiatives.
“The generosity of our community at the Red & White Ball has been significant over the years, and we are hopeful that this year will be no different, particularly as the needs of our children and students are more amplified coming out of the pandemic and distance learning,” said Angela Ryan, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. “Revenue generated at this year’s event will be directed to helping students recover from a tumultuous past year, by making possible preschool, after-school and weekend programs. With the support of our generous community, together we can help ensure our kids catch-up, recover and thrive this year.”
Beginning the first week of August, Red & White Ball sponsors are poised to match all donations up to $60,000, including some special triple match days. Individuals who make a gift of $250 or more before Aug. 20 will receive a special Red & White Ball party bag, which they can pick up at a festive Pick-Up Party in the Plaza horseshoe on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 3-5 p.m.
An online auction will run the full week of Aug. 23-29, featuring unique lots, including local and remote vacation getaways, exclusive wine and spirits tasting opportunities, private events featuring food and entertainment and more.
The Red & Wall Ball has historically benefited a wide array of student programming. On the heels of the federal and state COVID funding made available to school districts to bolster resources during the school day, SVEF has an opportunity to creatively and strategically direct revenue to other areas where students have been impacted by the pandemic. This will ensure that there are programs and opportunities to help recapture “beyond the bell” learning and social-emotional development.
For more information about the event or to donate, contact Caroline Brown at email@example.com. For more information, visit svgreatschools.org.