By Hannah Hogness
This past year, I had the amazing opportunity to serve as a student board member for the Public School Funding Alliance (PSFA). I moved to the Methow Valley during my fifth-grade year at Methow Valley Elementary School, so I was no stranger to the support offered by PSFA when I was invited to join the board.
However, I didn’t know how vast this support was in this community until I became a board member, and I was surprised to see that many other members of this community don’t know the extent of PSFA’s impact. Many people know some of the basic elementary school involvement, such as the Spanish classes where we learned ‘La Cucaracha’ and made “bate-bate chocolate,” or the elementary school violin program that gives third-graders a chance to learn music.
But for me personally, PSFA really impacted me through Mary Ann Bailey. Mary Ann is the college counselor at Liberty Bell High School and her position is supported through PSFA. Without the leadership of PSFA, this position may never have been implemented for the high school community. I was completely lost on where to start my college applications during the first few months of my senior year. Every time I was overwhelmed, creatively blocked, or simply needed someone to help keep me going, I found myself gravitating towards Mary Ann’s office.
She always laid things out in the simplest way. She gave me feedback that made each of my college applications the strongest it could be, and she offered me additional resources to help with my essays. But most of all she was always happy, smiling, laughing and encouraging. She made me feel reassured and comfortable with all the change in my life. And in my opinion, that’s exactly what a college counselor should be doing: keeping you sane and comfortable about your future. Without the ongoing support of this position from PSFA and the funding to keep Mary Ann Bailey’s position, I would not have had this senior high school experience.
Many programs supported
PSFA’s board of directors works hard each year to raise money to pay for college advising and many other things that help students and make school more interesting. In the high school that includes helping pay for a coordinator for the annual Close Up trip to Washington, D.C., and scholarships for students who can’t afford to pay the full amount of the trip. I know for many students in my grade, this was their first cross-continental travel, and for some, their first time on an airplane at all! PSFA also pays for a coordinator for the tutoring program for Liberty Bell students, who get academic help from volunteer tutors.
In addition to Spanish and violin at the elementary school, PSFA helps fund the Let ’Em Ride program at Moccasin Lake Ranch, where special needs students have a chance to ride horses and increase their self confidence. As a board member, reading this application gave me a great sense of accomplishment to know these programs were made available by the very organization I was working with. This year PSFA is going to help start a new robotics club for elementary students, which will be a great way for kids to learn about science and technology. I know my brother would have gone ballistic for an opportunity like that in his elementary years! And of course there is the schoolyard garden, and Methow Arts plays and performances, all made accessible through PSFA support.
As a student who both served on the PSFA board and benefited from the programs PSFA funds, I am grateful for the support our community gives to help students and our public schools. I’m off to college this fall (thanks for your help, Mary Ann!) and hope that other students will continue to have the opportunities I did through support from PSFA.
Hannah Hogness, co-valedictorian of the Liberty Bell High School class of 2015, is a freshman at Seattle University this fall.