by Heather Meliski
This month I’m taking a break from my monthly travel article to share with you an initiative I am passionate about, the Nickajack Elementary Foundation. I’d like to share some of the amazing things we have accomplished so far this year. The Nickajack Elementary Foundation (NEF) is comprised of a board of parent volunteers and staff whose mission is to help fund STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education initiatives for the 1,100+ students of Nickajack Elementary School. Our goal is to spark inspiration through STEAM learning and technology to cultivate potential STEAM-related future leaders. We achieve these initiatives and goals through the generous support of our Nickajack community by individual donations and corporate matching, as well as corporate sponsorship.
As of the time of this printing, we have raised over $118,000 – and counting – for the 2019-20 Back the Jack campaign primarily through individual donations and corporate matching. This amount has greatly exceeded our fundraising goal of $100,000. This has allowed the NEF to fund a variety of initiatives such as Nickajack’s new Math lab which provides additional hands-on learning in Math that supplements our regular classroom learning, teacher grants, other hands-on learning experiences, classroom tools, student enrichment and instructional programs via online learning software, and professional development for teachers.
At the beginning of October, we hosted our Great Skate event which is our annual celebration of another successful Back the Jack campaign. Everyone had an amazing time at Sparkles skating, playing games, getting their faces painted, enjoying delicious food provided by Siracusa’s Pizza and Twin Smokers BBQ, and meeting some of our corporate sponsors.
In January the NEF hosted STEAM Night which is an evening of hands-on exploration, games, exhibits, and fun for our students and families. The dancers from be Dance with Ms. Reggy kicked off the night with a great performance and some of the fun activities the kids participated in included planting seeds, board breaking, a flight simulator, and live art demonstrations.
In addition to individual donations and corporate matching, an important aspect of our ability to reach our annual fundraising goals is corporate sponsorship by local businesses (which is my role on the board and the area I am most passionate about) which also saw significant year-over-year growth. Our largest corporate donation for 2019-20 was given by our Platinum sponsor, Yongsa Martial Arts. Yongsa is a martial arts studio and active community partner in Smyrna, and they believe in enriching lives through the practice of martial arts. They were also a featured sponsor at both the Great Skate event and STEAM Night where their activities were a fan-favorite! I would like to thank Yongsa on behalf of the NEF board for their generous donation and their continued support of the Nickajack community.
Other NEF corporate sponsors include our Gold sponsors – BE Orthodontics, Los Bravos, and Twin Smokers BBQ – and our Silver sponsors – A Grade Ahead, Atlanta Smiles & Wellness, be Dance with Ms. Reggy, Black Knight Martial Arts, Hotworx, and Siracusa’s Pizza.
On behalf of the Nickajack Elementary Foundation I want to say thank you to all of our Friends of the Foundation who contributed to the success of this year’s Back the Jack campaign. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we come together as a community to support our children and I’m blown away by how the Nickajack community raises the bar year after year. And if you’re a local business owner or individual interested in contributing to the continued success of one of our local schools, I would love for you to consider a contribution to the Nickajack Elementary Foundation!