Apr 23

Here’s the list of Live and Silent Auction Items

Wow!  This is our best year yet of auction item donations!  And it all goes to a good cause. Be sure and come early for the silent auction, and be ready to raise your bid cards high for the fabulous live auction items. DSCN0411Thank you to all the businesses and individuals who so generously donated items, services and experiences. LIVE AUCTION LIST

  • Capt. Whidbey Inn: 1 night, Cabin plus a /$50 meal
  • City of Langley: Ride on the Wild Side  with the Chief of Police
  • The Wileys:  Crab Feast for Eight Delivered to Your Home
  • Fairmont Hotel or Resort: 4 nights in Jr. suite $2000 (minimum bid)
  • Michael Gibson: Wine Tasting for 8 of  5 Spanish wines
  • Georgia Gerber: Playful Otter Sculpture
  • Jim & Paula Pugh: a Puget Sound Boat trip
  • Belltown Condo, 2 br,water view, 2 nights
  • Kathy Fox: Pine Cottage B&B, 1 weekend night or 2 wk. day nights
  • Comfort Wines:  wine tasting, 4 couples & 1 bottle each take home
  • The Boatyard Inn: 2 one-night stays Sun-Th
  • Becky Foote:  Ballard Condo and  cafe gift certificate


  • Shirlee Read’s award-winning pie (several choices) with a Sharon Warwick, master potter, pie plate
  • Alexandria Boyer: 4 hours of house cleaning
  • Moonraker Books: $30 gift certificate
  • Boomerang: printing of 100 postcards
  • Linds: Brighton-Beverly Glam  Yelllow Tone Bracelet, Brighton-Onyx ribbon bead, black enamel, yellow Swarovski crystals, silver plated
  • Donna Taylor:  Handmade quilt
  • Payless Foods: gift certificate
  • Bayview Farm & Garden: Gift certificate basket
  • A Clean Carpet Co.: up to 450 sq.ft of carpet cleaning
  • Pickles Deli: $50 gift certificate
  • Sarah Moulton: 4 riding lessons
  • Anza Muenchow: Microsoft Suite (Mac or PC)
  • Sweet Mona’s: $25 gift certificate
  • Music for the Eyes: Turkish Nidya Jilim rug
  • Soleil:   $25 gift certificate
  • Sister: jewelry
  • Brackenwood: Porcelain necklace &   Earrings, silver & pewter
  • Deborah Eimes:  Set of 6 cat tarot mxed media cards w/ env & keyrings
  • Casey’s Crafts: Rustic garden sphere art and $25 gift certificate
  • Joe’s Wood-fired Pizza:    Gift Cert. for 2 Lg Pizzas
  • Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe:     $20 Gift. Cert
  • Jim’s Hardware:  $25 gift certificate
  • Critters & Co. Pet Center: 44 lbs Canidae or Precise  Dog Food
  • Les Schwab:   $120 gift certificate
  • Family Care Fitness Center: 6 month membership certificate
  • Deception Pass Jet Boat Tour:  4 tickets
  • David Nelson: Gift Certificate for Beef
  • Quail Farm products
  • Webb’s Department  Store:  Assorted clothing items & $25 gift Cert.
  • Catherine DeWitt Framing:   2 framed K. Smith Collages 2 special cleaner boxes
  • Rocco & Kathy Gianni:   an Italian Dinner
  • Old Beach Rd. Farm : $50 Gift Cert for Summer Vegetables
  • Hein Marine:  trailer jack and LED trailer light kit
  • Island Athletic Clu:b   One-month adult pass to Revolution Cycling Studio

Apr 19


LAST CALL for tickets to this year’s South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s Gala Dinner on Saturday, April 26 at 5 p.m. at the Useless Bay Golf & Country Club. Don’t miss what will be one of the best evenings on South Whidbey… and it goes to support classroom grants in our schools!
Judi Fenton is the featured speaker… Jim Freeman is emcee and auctioneer… live underwater robotics demonstration… 30+ fabulous items and experiences to bid on… music by members of the High School Jazz Band… and loads of fun and laughter!

Buy your tickets online athttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/587187

Questions? Call dinner docents Jean Shaw (360-221-5159) or Susie Richards at (360-929-2606).



Jim Freeman SWSF2

Apr 14

Putting the FUN in Fundraiser… Buy your tickets NOW

We’re putting the FUN back into fundraiser! South Whidbey’s Conductor of Fun, Jim Freeman will emcee and serve as after-dinner auctioneer at this year’s South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s gala dinner on Saturday, April 26 beginning at 5 p.m.

You can either purchase your tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/587187 or, you can write a check to SWSF, mark “Gala” in the memo area and mail it to:

SWSF / PO Box 24 / Freeland, WA 98249. 

Tickets are $75 per person and include a choice of three entrees.

If mailing in a check, please download and print this Gala Ticket PDF form and indicate your choice of either roast prime rib with au jus and horseradish sauce, grilled salmon with beurre rouge, or Portobello Wellington (a vegetarian entree). Each dinner includes a green salad with tomato, asiago cheese and balsamic vinaigrette or a Caesar salad, chef’s selection potato or rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetable, and a fabulous chocolate dessert with after dinner coffee. Wine will also be served with dinner.

There are more than 30 fabulous items for our silent and live auctions, with more coming in each day. Visit www.SWSFoundation.org for a listing.

This is going to be the best event we’ve ever put on, so don’t miss out.

Questions? Call dinner docents Jean Shaw (360-221-5159) or Susie Richards at (360-929-2606).

Remember, all the net proceeds are used for teacher-requested innovative classroom grants.

Gala Mail-in Signup


Mar 26

About Judi Fenton, This Year’s Keynote Speaker at the April 26 Dinner

In a recent phone conversation before she headed off to Panama for an educational consulting assignment, Judi Fenton stressed again and again how much she loves South Whidbey.

“Of all the places I’ve lived and worked on four continents, I’ve always considered South Whidbey to be home and the place of some of the happiest times of my life,” she said. “I’m so happy to be invited back to speak at the Foundation’s gala dinner.”

Fenton served as Principal for the South Whidbey Primary School from 1991 to 1996, then went on to pursue teaching and administrative assignments in several countries at international schools, many sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Her talk at the April 26 fundraising dinner will look at the future of education as it involves the increasing incorporation of technology in the classroom while still being grounded in what Fenton calls ‘ the Four C’s’ of Education: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

“I think we need to add a fifth C for compassion,” she added. “Working with students in third-world countries, I am increasingly interested in finding a way for students in developed countries to share their 21st century knowledge and skills with students in the developing world,” she said.

Now 70, Fenton tried retirement for a few years, but found it was not to her liking. “I just love education too much,” she said. “It’s my passion and my calling’ she added.

She was the subject of a feature story in the Daily Inter Lake Newspaper last June. (She lives in Kalispell, Montana.) The following article is used by permission.  (Photo of Judi at home was taken by Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake).

Consultant on global quest to help international students

By LYNNETTE HINTZE/ Features Editor / The Daily Inter Lake


There’s a hint of nonchalance as Judi Fenton talks about the time she was nearly attacked by a deadly cobra on a playground in Senegal, or tells about the time she almost died of dengue fever contracted during a trip to Costa Rica.

But to know Fenton is to know she is fearless and that her job as a consultant for international schools around the world trumps the risks associated with living and working in developing countries.

“To me it’s all about making a difference,” said Fenton, who lives in Kalispell when she’s not traveling to set up curriculum programs or train teachers in far-off lands. “I don’t want to compromise my experiences and life by being afraid.

“I know in my heart of hearts these kids are going to change the world. We have to give them the skills. I do it for that reason.”

Judi-Fenton at home-croppedIt may have been Fenton’s upbringing on the plains of Eastern Montana that best prepared her for a career in education that ultimately prompted her globe-hopping pursuit of helping international students and teachers.

“We were raised to be rough and resilient,” she said about growing up in Scobey.

Her family moved during her junior year to the Hi-Line community of Glasgow, where she graduated from high school. She sang in the chorus, twirled batons and was a cheerleader.

“I’m a noisy type,” she said with a laugh.

The pivotal moment that turned her onto the path of becoming a teacher came in the seventh grade when she got the opportunity to teach Sunday school at the small Episcopal church in Scobey. The following year she taught fellow students how to twirl a baton.

Fenton earned a degree in elementary education and master’s in education administration from the University of Montana, with an endorsement in curriculum development.

“When I graduated in the ’60s, you could be one of three things: a teacher, nurse or secretary,” she said. But even if other career paths had been common for women at that time, Fenton said she still would have chosen education.

“I think my strength doesn’t lie as much with academics as it does in visualizing things,” she said, likening the challenges in her career to a tapestry.

“I have a God-given ability to know where to put those threads,” she said. “It’s intuition, a gut feeling I’ve learned to trust over time.”

Fenton spent 13 years as an elementary and middle-school teacher in Montana, including a stint teaching a pilot program for gifted students in Missoula. She spent several years as a school principal, too, in Missoula and Havre.

While she was working for the Montana Office of Public Instruction she took her first big risk by challenging her boss, the incumbent for the job of superintendent of public instruction.

A divorced mother of two young children at the time, Fenton drained $18,000 out of her savings to get through the campaign.

She lost in the primary — and lost her job.

“I’m not a political animal, but I learned so much about how connected people can be,” she reflected.

About a decade later, while she was a principal in Missoula, Fenton was accepted for a principal exchange program with Victoria, Australia.

“It was a magical year, life-changing,” she recalled.

When Fenton returned home to find the same teachers, sitting in the same chairs in the teachers’ lounge, voicing the same complaints, she knew it was time to move on, so she took a principal job on South Whidbey Island for the next six years.

As the call to return to her roots — teaching — became louder, Fenton responded in a big way. She accepted a teaching job at a large international school in Shanghai, China, where the diverse student population included children of diplomats, missionaries and overseas business executives, among others.

Shanghai was the springboard for what would become a global hop-scotch of international jobs. Next she was off to be an assistant principal at an international school in the Dominican Republic. From there Fenton went to Senegal, West Africa, for four years.

“My heart is still there,” she said. “In each of these countries I visit (she’s been in 47 countries) it’s the people and the culture. These kids are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. They’re so resilient and politically astute.”

But war, poverty and disease often are close at hand in developing countries.

“When we walked out of school [in Senegal] it was poverty; dirt roads, squatters’ villages, tin shacks,” she said.

Dakar Senegal in a village to attend a christeningJPG

When Fenton returned to the United States from Senegal about five years ago, she was struck by the anti-Muslim sentiment she saw in America, a contrast to her harmonious life alongside Muslims in West Africa.

“It made me beyond sad,” she said. “Those people treated me so well.”

Fenton then went back to Shanghai for a couple of years as a program director at the same school in which she’d launched her international career. It wasn’t long after that she found herself in demand as an international school consultant.

A lifetime in education had prepared Fenton well for her consultant role.

“I’ve taught at every grade level. I’ve been a teacher, principal, superintendent, worked at the Office of Public Instruction,” she said. “And I have a lot of knowledge and information about setting up programs.”

Fenton typically spends three weeks at an international school, then is on to the next assignment. This week she’s headed back to Guyana, on the northern coast of South America. Then it’s on to Brazil, Honduras, Ghana and back to Senegal. Many of her contracts come through the U.S. State Department.

When she’s not on the road she’s in Kalispell, spending time with John Hendricks, her “significant other” for the past four years. She tried retirement, but it didn’t take.

Fenton doesn’t travel from school to school because it’s easy money. She often does pro bono consulting, and offers a discounted price to almost every international school she works with.

“These teachers and kids and those who run the schools need the support,” she said. “Now my work is to contribute.”

Feb 17

Early Bird Registration for April 26 SWSF Gala Dinner

JudiFentonLast year’s event was so much fun that we wanted to get the word out early this year!

Internationally known educator Judi Fenton will be the keynote speaker at the South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s annual gala event, April 26.

On Whidbey she is known as a past principal of the South Whidbey Primary School. Ms. Fenton was a principal for 16 years at various schools in the U.S. and Australia before becoming a consultant specializing in international schools. She has conducted workshops in every corner of the globe, has taught at all grade levels, and has worked extensively with curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The dinner gala is the primary fundraiser for the Foundation which funds innovative classroom projects in the South Whidbey School District. This past year the Foundation distributed grants totaling more than $20,000 and has awarded than $150,000 since it was founded in 1994.

All are welcome to attend the April 26 gala to be held at Useless Bay Golf & Country Club with social hour beginning at 5 p.m. Enjoy live music, choice of three superb dinner entrees, silent and live auctions (the latter emceed by Jim Freeman), and see the results of some of the grants that were awarded this year.

There will be live music, a no-host bar, a before-dinner silent auction, brief reports from students and teachers who received classroom grants this past year, and an after-dinner live auction hosted by popular local host Jim Freeman.

This event is for everyone who supports our local schools and wishes to help support the Foundation in its mission to provide innovative, teacher-funded classroom grants that promote educational excellence.

Dinner tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online at

The dinner entree choices will include roast prime rib with au jus and horseradish sauce, grilled salmon with beurre rouge, and Portobello Wellington (a vegetarian entree).  Each dinner includes a green salad with tomato, asiago cheese and balsamic vinaigrette or Caesar salad, chef’s selection potato or rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetable, and a fabulous chocolate dessert with after dinner coffee.

Social hour, live music and silent auction begin at 5:00 PM followed by dinner at 6 p.m.



Jan 29

New ‘Dine Out Wednesdays for SW Schools’ Effort Launches February 5

Window Sticker Wed RGB for SignSeven restaurants have teamed up with the South Whidbey Schools Foundation to raise funds for classroom grants by encouraging residents to “Dine Out Wednesdays for SW Schools” during February and March.

“The program encourages people to support South Whidbey Schools by eating at specific participating restaurants on Wednesdays – a traditionally slow day during the slow winter months of February and March. We see it as a win-win effort for students and local businesses,” said South Whidbey Foundation President Chris Gibson.

A portion of each restaurant’s net profits from that day will be donated to the Foundation to fund innovative, teacher and staff-requested classroom projects. The Foundation has given out more than $150,000 in classroom grants since it began in 1994.

“We have a good cross section of restaurants that have agreed to participate in the program, so there are lots of choices for diners. People can dine in or order take-out food during each restaurant’s hours of operation,” said Susie Richards, co-chair of the Dine Out Program along with retired educator Jean Shaw. (Shaw is appearing in a short online video to promote the program.)

Participating restaurants include Gordon’s On Blueberry Hill, Cafe Langley, Mukilteo Coffee Roasters Café in the Woods, Freeland Café, Mo’s Pub and Eatery, Hong Kong Gardens, and Patron Mexican Restaurant.

“Our hope is that South Whidbey residents will visit a different participating restaurant each Wednesday during the months of February and March,” said Richards.  “We encourage participants to be sure to mention to their servers that they came to support the Dine Out Wednesdays for Schools program, as it will help both the restaurants and Foundation gauge the effectiveness of the program.

Dec 06

Foundation kicks off year-end giving drive

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation has kicked off its annual year-end giving drive with the release of its 2012/13 annual report.  The report contains articles about several SWSF-funded classroom projects, plus a list of grants for this school year. It was mailed this week to past supporters of the Foundation and is also available online at the Foundation’s website at http://southwhidbeyschoolsfoundation.org/about/annual-report-pdf/

“We’re hoping to raise $10,000 by the January,” said the Foundation’s Treasurer, John Riley.  “We had more requests this year than we had funds to disburse, and we’d like to enter the next school year with a more robust ability to say ‘yes’ to more of these very worthwhile teacher-requested classroom grants.”

Inside the annual report is a remit envelope, but online readers can also make a donation via PayPal on the nonprofit’s website at: http://southwhidbeyschoolsfoundation.org/

Checks can also be mailed to : SWSF / PO Box 24 / Freeland, WA 98249.

Small cover

Nov 15

More than $21,000 in Classroom Grants Handed Out for 2013/14

For the second year in a row the South Whidbey Schools Foundation provided over $21,000 in funding to South Whidbey School District educators for a wide range of innovative education projects.  On November 4, 2013, the Foundation awarded 20 grants to 16 different educators at the District’s four campuses, ranging in value from $325 to $2,000. Dan Poolman SWSF pic

The Foundation received 31 grant applications from District educators this year, seeking more than $39,000 in total funding.  According to Foundation president Chris Gibson, “there was not an unworthy grant proposal in the bunch, which made it very difficult to decide how to distribute the Foundation’s limited funds.  We had to make some very difficult choices.”

This year’s successful grant applications include funding for 3D mRNA, DNA and Amino Acid modeling kits for use in high school biology; financial support for building and operating an underwater robot for the underwater robotics club; funding to allow Elementary School students the opportunity to raise young salmon in the classroom; and funding to bring numerous local artists into South Whidbey schools to help maintain a meaningful art curriculum on every campus.  The Foundation also provided funding for several garden projects aimed at providing multi-disciplinary learning opportunities and, eventually, locally grown food for the school cafeterias.

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to supporting innovation and excellence in the South Whidbey School District.  

Jun 28

Four Teachers Receive Extra Mile and Mentorship Awards From Schools Foundation

For the first time in its 18-year history, the South Whidbey Schools Foundation awarded three teachers its “Extra Mile” award at the June 18 end-of-school-year Elementary and Middle School Assemblies. The award, along with a $250 check, was presented to Becky Ward and Michelle Zisette, both South Whidbey Elementary Special Services teachers, and to Nels Bergquist, a Langley Middle School English and Social Studies teacher (who was previously awarded the Foundation’s Mentorship award for 2010/11).

The “Extra Mile” award goes to a South Whidbey educator nominated by his or her peers and selected by the Foundation Board for extraordinary service provided to South Whidbey students and schools.

Elementary School Special Services teacher Becky Ward shows surprise at learning she was  one of three recipients of this year’s Extra Mile award which was presented by  SWSF Board Secretary Jean Shaw. The other recipients were Michelle Zisette of SWES and  Nels Bergquist of Langley Middle School.

Elementary School Special Services teacher Becky Ward shows surprise at learning she was one of three recipients of this year’s Extra Mile award which was presented by SWSF Board Secretary Jean Shaw. The other recipients were Michelle Zisette of SWES and Nels Bergquist of Langley Middle School.

Becky Ward was nominated by several teachers because, as stated in her nomination letter, “She truly embodies a teacher who puts her heart and mind into educating her students… She goes above and beyond to help not only the children but their families as well. She fosters partnerships and supportive relationships… She keeps parents informed, listens to every situation, and finds a way to make it happen for all sides. We are so lucky to have such a patient, understanding, and dedicated teacher at our school.”

SWES Special Services teacher Michelle Zisette is presented  with the South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s Extra Mile award  and a $250 check from SWSF Board Secretary Jean Shaw.

SWES Special Services teacher Michelle Zisette is presented
with the South Whidbey Schools Foundation’s Extra Mile award
and a $250 check from SWSF Board Secretary Jean Shaw.

Michelle Zisette was nominated by the school principal who received a letter from the parent of a student in the Learning Resource Center with the following commendation: “I was absolutely amazed at how she just jumped into the vacant position … and got immediately up-to-speed on all her case files. She was and has been absolutely amazing in the way she is handling both IEPs and LRC with professionalism. She is a great listener, extremely organized in her classroom, manages her IEP cases on-time and professionally, and is a great educational partner with me… She definitely deserves this award.”

Nels Berquist, who was nominated by a colleague wishing to remain anonymous, was commended for making, “… a huge difference in his students’ lives and in (the life of) one student in particular. This young man has had a rough year. Between transitions and personal issues he was having a rough time at school. He hated getting up, he wouldn’t do his work, and he wanted nothing to do with school. Each day he would begrudgingly get up, go through the routines, and ‘survive’ being at school. Since being in Mr. Bergquist’s room he has made a huge turnaround. His grades are up, he looks forward to going to school, and works hard to meet Mr. Bergquist’s expectations. When asked why he likes Mr. Bergquist so much he replied, ‘because he cares about me, is interested in me as a person, and expects me to do my best.’ I have heard numerous stories about Mr. Bergquist, each one is about what an amazing teacher he is, how he has this unique ability to set high expectations and motivate students to want to meet those expectations.”

SWHS English Lit teacher Jennifer Gandarias is awarded the 2013 Mentorship Award from South Whidbey Schools Foundation Board Secretary Jean Shaw while the students who nominated her, Lennox Bishop and Tyler Hervey, applaud.

SWHS English Lit teacher Jennifer Gandarias is awarded the 2013 Mentorship Award from South Whidbey Schools Foundation Board Secretary Jean Shaw while the students who nominated her, Lennox Bishop and Tyler Hervey, applaud.

On June 13 at South Whidbey High School’s Senior Class Farewell Assembly, English Literature teacher Jennifer Gandarias, received the Foundation’s Mentorship Award along with a $500 check. This annual award was established by Steve Shapiro, MD and his wife, Debora Valis, for the purpose of allowing students to acknowledge and honor the leadership, mentorship and inspiration of specific teachers who have contributed the most to their success throughout their education at South Whidbey schools. Seniors Lennox Bishop and Tyler Helvey, who nominated Ms. Gandarias for the award, joined retired educator and South Whidbey Schools Foundation Secretary Jean Shaw in presenting the award.

Lennox Bishop wrote in her nomination that, “Mrs. G. is an exceptional teacher.  She goes above and beyond by not only challenging her students, but by truly investing in each one personally.  She has a passion for teaching and it is evident.  She has supported me through some of my greatest struggles. She inspires me every day.”

Gandarias was also a recipient of the Foundation’s Extra Mile Award for the 2009/10 school year.

The South Whidbey Schools Foundation provided more than $26,000 in teacher-requested classroom grants this past school year and more than $100,000 since it began making grants in 1996.

Funds are raised from individual donors and local businesses and by its annual gala dinner held each May at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club.

$14,000 was raised at this year’s May 18 event – all of it to be used toward the coming school year’s classroom grants. Grants are based on teacher applications for innovative projects teachers want to undertake in their classrooms that align with district curriculum but are otherwise unable to be funded with District resources.

“The Foundation’s grants allow me to provide that extra exciting project that will captivate students and encourage them to enjoy learning,” said South Whidbey Academy Principal David Pfeiffer.  “It is a wonderful resource and we are so thankful to the community for supporting the Foundation.”

Pfeiffer received a $5,000 grant this year for a collaborative garden project undertaken by students of the South Whidbey Academy and South Whidbey Elementary School. After the June 18 assembly at the Elementary School, the South Whidbey Schools Foundation was honored at a party in the garden for their role in makingthe project possible.

Superintendent Jo Moccia pointed out that community involvement is key to a strong and vibrant school system.  “The South Whidbey Schools Foundation is a tremendous resource to the District and helps keep the creative juices flowing for both teachers and students by providing the ability to realize special projects above and beyond what the District can fund with its limited resources” she said.

Jun 03

Thank you for supporting the South Whidbey Schools Foundation

Thank you to the many local businesses and individuals who helped to make this year’s Gala event a success!

SWSF donor thank-you ad


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