PIE: A simple way to support our teachers

Big issues have dominated Vashon’s public education narrative of late. Staggering budget cuts and failing facilities are two examples that come to mind. But this focus on big dollar problems has obscured the fact that education is an incremental process. Each child’s knowledge accrues one class, one discovery, one assignment and one experience at a time. And it’s our teachers who create and manage these micro learning opportunities. Isn’t there an effective, low-cost way to support them in this effort?

As it turns out, there’s an unassuming organization that has been doing exactly this for 24 years now — Vashon Partners in Education, aka PIE. For many, PIE may be under the radar compared to other educational initiatives on the Island. But while PIE may work quietly, it works very effectively.

The PIE model for improving Vashon public schools is simple. We solicit proposals for materials, projects and activities that will demonstrably enrich the educational experience. Most proposals come from those who know our students best, namely teachers, though anyone may submit a proposal. Proposals with the most merit and applicability are funded.

Vashon Partners in Education is an independent charitable organization governed by a board of local citizens. Its goal is not to backfill that which state budgets have taken away. Instead, the goal is to experiment, break new ground, reach students in new and engaging ways and to rekindle teachers’ passion.

PIE is not about copier paper and glue sticks. Instead, PIE funds outdoor learning experiences, science experiments, art projects, interactive whiteboards, math competitions and museum field trips. And that’s only a partial list from last year. You can visit www.VashonPIE.org for a complete listing of recent grants.

Of course there is a catch. This simple plan of enabling teachers to provide enriching projects delivered by a low overhead local organization succeeds only in direct proportion to your support. PIE’s biggest annual fundraiser will be a phonathon on October 4, 5 and 6. If you want to keep Vashon schools special, if you believe education happens one “aha” moment at a time, if you want to motivate our teachers and help them challenge our students, then please answer the call and give what you can.


The annual Vashon Partners in Education phonathon is scheduled for Oct. 4, 5 and 6. The Vashon Sheepdog Classic, this weekend, also raises funds for PIE. See story on page 12.

— Dave Straube, a father and software engineer, has been a PIE board member since 2005.



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