Tucker Cluster School Parents and Teachers Going the Extra Mile for Student Achievement
Students in Mr. Minott’s ESOL class at Tucker High School have a unique way of learning. These students are picking up the English language, so traditional textbooks and novels aren’t always the best tools. Instead, these students are learning English through the universal appeal of comic books.
Comic books are not a school resource funded by DeKalb County or pretty much any other school district. But the students at Tucker High have them thanks to the hard work and generosity of the Tucker High School Foundation.
Founded in 2011, the Tucker High School Foundation was created to prepare the Centennial Celebration for the school. They raised funds from local businesses and alumni to host past graduating classes and the Tucker community in a weekend long celebration. Once that goal was achieved, the foundation was back at square one asking, ‘what next?’
Since then, they‘ve regrouped and shifted their focus to supporting current learning efforts at the high school.
“The Tucker High School Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of the teachers and students of Tucker High School,” says foundation president Joe Winterscheidt. “We sponsor regular teacher appreciation at events such as open house and curriculum night, provide teacher grants for classrooms, and award Senior and STEM scholarships to deserving students.”
The foundation is thriving because of a strong executive board and committees staffed by alumni, current teachers and community stakeholders. The foundation has held several fundraisers over the years including an annual golf tournament, spirit nights in partnership with local restaurants and, for the first time this year, a Casino Night.
“We are always looking for creative fundraising ideas that will bring together members of the community for an event slightly different than your ordinary everyday fundraiser,” says Casino Night Chair Alicia Maclin. “Casino Nights are an interactive experience that brings the fun and excitement of Las Vegas to the Tucker community!”
Across the Tucker Cluster, schools have come up with their own ways to raise these types of additional funds. Some include the traditional Parent Teacher Association (PTA) model, while others have adopted a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Each option is effective, but a foundation allows for more autonomy in how it operates and how it spends money.
Regardless of the type of organization, each school in the Tucker Cluster has its own major fundraisers throughout the school year. Many of the schools host read-a-thon events, where friends and family members donate money to encourage students to read. Others organize fall carnivals, where people outside the school community can come and participate. At Livsey Elementary School, they think even further outside the box, hosting a Color Run each spring where runners navigate a five kilometer course while being sprayed with a variety of colors of liquid chalk.
“I love that our PTO gets so involved in creating these fun events,” says Livsey Principal Shauna Pickett. “These volunteers put in months of hard work to create special memories and raise money. Ultimately, the kids are the ones who benefit.”
It’s important work, but it can be a lot for parents who often have full-time jobs or other children to take care of. So why put in all the effort? Joe Wintersheidt says the reason is simple.
“I want to leave the school in a better place than when our first child started here eight years ago.”
With the work of parents across the Tucker Cluster and cooperation from school administrators, each of Tucker’s schools can share in that same mission.