In 2009, Amy Longanecker and her husband, Jameson, moved to Sandpoint with their three young sons. She, like many new parents, wanted what was best for her kids. She learned about READY! For Kindergarten, a free workshop funded by Panhandle Alliance for Education that teaches parents what they need to know before their kids enter Kindergarten.
“I was so impressed,” Amy said, “The classes are held three times a year and teach you how to play with your child constructively. You walk away from these classes with a handful of toys, fun materials, and instructions. It was a roadmap for me, and we made a big deal out of it. I did everything they told me to do.”
In first grade, their oldest son came home talking about his puppy. He had earned a collar that day for his puppy because he had read three books at school. Lucky Puppies is another program funded by PAFE that encourages first graders to read.
Now, Amy said, I have three readers in the house, and it’s because of Lucky Puppies.
These early childhood education programs are transformational. They are the building blocks, and it encourages parents to be involved from the beginning. But it’s only the start; our programs impact students through high school.
When Amy learned of a job opening at PAFE in 2014, she jumped at the opportunity. And now, after seven years as their development and events director, she is stepping in as the executive director.
“This community is full of people who give their time and their skills. In this new role, I can take an even more significant part not only in giving back to the school district, the students, the educators but the community in a small way. I want to turn the tables and give parents the confidence I needed when my boys were babies and toddlers.”
PAFE’s role is to give educators the resources they need to have that creativity and innovation in the classroom – it gives teachers and school leaders the extra things the budget doesn’t cover. Things that give them creative license to do something they love in the classroom. Their passion and enthusiasm are contagious. The students get involved; they love it; they bring it home and talk to their parents. It makes a difference.
Our board makeup is an excellent indicator of that. We have 25 of the most creative, dynamic, and solution-oriented business and civic leaders an executive director could hope for.
When you were in school, did you ever wonder why you were learning something? For example, why learn trigonometry? How vital are derivatives to my life? Kids learn all this stuff in school, but what does it mean? What does it do for them? The following program is going to help connect those dots in a big way.
PAFE is looking forward to facilitating a partnership between local businesses and educators to show what skills translate to what opportunities they can pursue in their future.
Some students will want to continue to universities or community colleges, while others will be interested in vocational and tech education. Some will take gap years, and others will want to graduate with skills to put to work immediately. Whatever they choose, there are many decisions to be made and classes and skills they’ll need.
New initiatives aren’t the only priority for the coming year. Because of COVID, there is a great deal of catch-up to do in the classrooms and the school district has told us their highest priority is getting continued professional development for their educators. PAFE has committed to funding Professional Learning Communities district-wide in hopes of offering teachers strategic solutions for the challenges they will face this year.
Our work will never be done. There will always be new students coming through the classrooms and new ideas from the teachers. We want them to be able to count on us. I look forward to serving the organization toward our mission.
By the way! PAFE is now hiring for an Administrative Assistant / Event Coordinator. Find more information here.