Celebrating Excellence in Education


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The Ed Fund will be celebrating and honoring the excellence of five West Contra Costa Unified School District teachers and 52 Ed Fund Scholarship winners at its 28th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration in May. The Ed Fund is also showcasing the work of its West County College Access Network and Out-of School Time collaborative partners by recognizing a Collaborative Partner of the Year.  Student performances by two Ed Fund Arts & Music Impact Grantees, the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and the El Cerrito High School will also be featured. We are honored to have WCCUSD Superintendent Dr. Bruce Harter join us as our keynote speaker this year.

2016 Teaching Excellence Award Winners

The five 2016 Teaching Excellence Awards winners who will be honored at the Soaring to Excellence Celebration share a profound passion for instilling a love of learning in their students so that each student can attain their goals and realize their dreams. By carefully and thoughtfully weaving creativity, adherence to high standards, profound knowledge of the subjects being taught, and appreciation of individual differences, needs and strengths, these award winning teachers raise the quality of education to new heights.


Marissa Glidden, 6th Grade Self Contained Classroom

Dover Elementary School

Ms. Glidden believes that “all students have the ability to succeed and become leaders both in their own education and in the community”.  Her main goal as a teacher is to make sure that her students are empowered leaders and motivated, passionate students on the path to reaching their college and career goals.  To accomplish this, her classroom is focused on student leadership and student centered learning.  Students run the classroom in seven different committees that align to the main classroom goals.  Each committee sets their own short and long term goals in order to motivate all students to reaching their big goals.  By working in these committees, students are developing a growth mindset, holding themselves to high expectations and learning how to advocate for themselves. 


Kristyn Loy, 6th Grade Math & History Teacher                                                                                                   

Elizabeth Stewart School K-8

Ms. Loy is fortunate in that she has known that she wanted to be an educator since the 2nd grade.  She has very strong roots with WCCUSD as her mother was a teacher for the visually impaired for over 30 years and she attended Sheldon, Crespi, and Pinole Valley.  One of her beliefs about teaching is that it is her job to empower children to become lifelong learners.  For her, one of the most important things in teaching is to establish trusting and respectful relationships with her students.  “Once my students feel safe physically and emotionally, then the real learning can begin!”  She loves teaching and doing her part to build a positive school community, where students feel empowered to learn and realize the impact that they have on the world.  


Taylor Rainier, 7th & 8th Grade Special Education Teacher

Lovonya DeJean Middle School

 “My hero and motivator is Paulo Freire, who viewed education as a liberating practice with student agency at its core.” Ms. Rainier believes teachers should learn from students just as much as students learn from them.  She sees her job, as an educator, to deeply understand where her students are coming from, the talents and knowledge they already possess, and what their end goals are.  By making lessons as relevant as possible to her students, and validating their funds of knowledge, she feels that she opens up doors to their futures.


Helene Burks, Biology & Environmental Science Teacher                                                                                       

El Cerrito High School

“Building strong relationships and nurturing curiosity are at the core of my approach to teaching”.  Ms. Burks believes that building relationships  between herself and her students  creates an atmosphere in which the students are able to be vulnerable about what they do and do not know, take risks in attempting new skills, and feel trust and security in a way that brings and energy and openness to the classroom.  Her classroom creates a ripe setting for growing curiosity through inquiry and exploration in the sciences.  She is continually inspired, entertained, and motivated by her students’ passion for justice and drive to improve themselves and the world around them, which mirrors her own. 


Lawrence Pang, Math Teacher

El Cerrito High School        

Mr. Pang believes that it is not the role of a teacher to “make learning fun”.  Rather, it is the role of the teacher to show students how satisfying learning can be, and how important it is when it is not.  “To focus on fun is to engage a student for a lesson.  To establish a need is to teach a student how to engage themselves for a lifetime.”  He strives to teach students to embrace and welcome each challenge as an opportunity to grow and learn about themselves—the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.  A high quality failure has as much value as some successes.  Whether the student is ultimately successful in defeating any one individual challenge is not as important as how they respond to the adversity.  The art of teaching is finding the correct level of challenge.

Sharing the honors with the Teaching Excellence Awards winners will be: 

2016 Collaborative Partner of the Year

Dr. Mara Lockowandt, Director of School Partnerships

East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Lockowandt is the current Director of School Partnerships at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts where she oversees the strategic development of a nationally recognized teacher professional development program, school and community youth programs, and early childhood education programs. Lockowandt serves in a number of leadership roles including the Steering Committee for the Out-of-School-Time Collaborative with the Ed Fund, the Steering Committee for the West County Business Collaborative, the Leadership Advisory Committee for West Contra Costa's Full Service Community Schools, and the Advisory Board for the Creative and Performing Arts Academy at Richmond High School.

We are so grateful to everyone who is supporting the event but especially our business partners and sponsors, including our Summa Cum Laude anonymous partner, Magna Cum Laude partners Chevron and the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and Cum Laude partners Deems Lewis McKinley Architects,  Irene S. Scully Family Foundation,  Kaiser Permanente,  Lozano Smith Attorneys at Law,  Mechanics Bank,  Travis Credit Union,  Whittier Educational Foundation, and WLC Architects.


Since its founding in 1983, the Ed Fund has provided more than $3.1 million in funding to enrich education for West Contra Costa Unified School District students. By the end of its 28th year, that funding will have provided more than 788 grants to teachers and schools, 139 Teaching Excellence Awards, more than 13 years of after school programs at district middle schools, hundreds of music and arts programs at all grade levels, dozens of summer scholarships to enable students to attend summer camps and workshops, and more than $1.4 million in college scholarships.

This year alone, with the support of College Futures Foundation, Irene S. Scully Family Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, Schroeder Family Foundation, and Whittier Educational Foundation, Ed Fund will make it possible for 52 West Contra Costa Unified high school seniors to realize their college dreams by awarding almost $130,000 in college scholarships.

The 28th Annual Soaring to Excellence Celebration will take place on Friday, May 6 from 7:00-9:00pm at the El Cerrito High School Performing Arts Theater. The event is free and open to the public. To register for this event, please visit www.edfundwest.org/events.


 Ed Fund

The Ed Fund is a nonprofit organization that works with community based organizations that provide services to West Contra Costa County to create educational environments where our students thrive and succeed in their chosen endeavors. Tax identification number 68-0005307. www.edfundwest.

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