Foundation to Support Garrett County Public Schools is Launched

Last Updated on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:08am | Education

Article courtesy of NCWC Media - The Republican  Reporter: Mary Sincell McEwen, Editor, The Republican. Photo credit to Jim Morris, GCPS.
A new organization has been launched with the purpose of financially boosting Garrett County Public Schools. The GCPS Dr. Wendell Teets Foundation was kicked off with a reception on Friday at the main office in Oakland. Dr. Teets was present for the event, as were several elected officials and school administrators.
The new organization is named in honor of Dr. Teets for his service during his 14-year tenure as superintendent of Garrett County Public Schools. He retired in 2011.
“I have worked in a lot of places, but I have always said that there is no place like Garrett County,” Teets said at the event. “I consider my time here as the greatest privilege of my life. And I am so very honored and pleased to be named as part of this endeavor.”
The GCPS/Wendell Teets Foundation will be dedicated to enhancing programs from pre-school through the 12th grade for all Garrett County public school students, as explained by Tom Carr, who spearheaded the venture some years ago. Carr served as a member of the Garrett County Board of Education for several years.
“In my time on the board, I learned quickly that Garrett County was one of the few counties in the state without a foundation such as this,” Carr said. “It has taken longer than we wanted to get it going, but we are very happy to have it begin at the start of this fiscal year.”
Carr explained that pupil enrollment has declined by over 20 percent during the past decade, so state funding for GCPS has been cut accordingly. There have been corresponding reductions in personnel, and three schools have been closed. County funding has had to remain frozen while costs continue to rise.
“The purpose of the foundation is not to assume basic costs, but to provide a revenue stream for complementary equipment, as well as opportunities that are important components to a quality, 21st-century education,” said Carr. He said the foundation is up and ready to accept funds, which can be directed to a specific program, or can be given as an overall donation to the school system. There will be a general fund for teachers’ needs, and other specific recipients, such as robotics, music, theatre, STEM, and more.
The mission of the foundation also includes the directive to work with other established foundations and organizations that already donate to the school system, and to perhaps join forces when possible, or help one another in finding the best possible way to send funding where it is most needed.
Superintendent Barbara Baker spoke briefly, noting that in the 14 years she worked with Dr. Teets, she learned a great deal.
“It’s so exciting that we have something of this importance named in your honor,” she said to Teets, with whom she ceremoniously cut the cake for the reception guests.
Cindy Downton, who is serving as the president of the new foundation, also addressed the guests.
“I feel this is such a wonderful opportunity for those who have gained from the Garrett County Public School System to give back,” Downton said.
She then accepted the first formal donation, given by Henrietta Lease on behalf of the Garrett County Retired Education Personnel Association. Lease is also serving on the foundation board as a member at large.
The officers of the foundation are Cindy Downton, president; Keith Sanders, vice president; Mary Sincell McEwen, secretary; and Amanda Mattingly, treasurer. Board members at large in addition to Lease are Carr and Traci Royce, and the ex-officio member is Tom Woods, member of the Garrett County Board of Education.
For more information about the GCPS Dr. Wendell Teets Foundation, persons may call (301) 334-8900, or send tax-deductible donations to PO Box 11, Oakland, MD 21550.