Shelley Shaw finds she does her best work when she works for an organization she is passionate about, and that’s just what she’s doing as the director of the Hoover City Schools Foundation. Through it her only “client” is Hoover City Schools and its students, a group of people she has had ties to through the years as her two children were growing up and she wanted to support the classrooms in their schools. Today she has a 2017 Spain Park graduate at Auburn and a sophomore at Spain Park, but her passion for students pours out to all 17 schools. We chatted with her to learn more about it.
Can you describe what the foundation is and does in a nutshell?
The foundation was formed to be a bridge and fill in gaps where funding might fall short. Hoover receives federal, state and local money, but it will never be enough. We award grants to fill in those gaps programs that, for example, are related to drug awareness or parent university.
How did you come into your role with the foundation?
I was on the foundation board and had served as secretary and was moving into VP position during 2019 when our executive director stepped down. Because I had experience on the board and nonprofit experience and a lot of volunteer roles with the schools, it was a good fit for me and for the board to ask that I keep things going for 2019. Previously I was president of the Hoover Parent Teacher Council and PTO president, and because I had previously worked for March of Dimes as their communications director, I understood being in a volunteer organization. After serving as the interim director, I was named director in March 2020.
Can you tell us more about the grants the foundation offers?
For teacher classroom grants, there’s an application, and the grant committee reviews those and awards them. For instance at Simmons this year we have awarded money to two seventh-grade teachers who are putting together a greenhouse for life sciences that will be a part of the curriculum. STEM (science technology engineering and math) is a big focus too. We have helped the district pull together GEMS (Girls Engage in Math and Science), a club with a science fair held annually. It gets them excited about learning and helps them consider this career field. That’s a district level grant, and it can be duplicated at different schools.
What about the second type of grant the foundation gives?
SeedLab became a focus for the foundation within the last few years. It is a way of growing an idea and being able to duplicate it. Teams of teachers are selected based on their presentations and are given a set amount of funds to explore a new idea. One group last year wanted to start a Strong Girls Club where girls spend time with female teachers to learn about how to write a thank you note, how to wrap a present and things that you might not be learning at your house. It’s engaging and boosts the girls’ confidence. We helped them get it going, and the seed grows. A middle school homework club also started when it was obvious more time needed to be spent with students, and seventh grade science teachers at Berry Middle School wanted to have a field trip specific to STEM careers to get students excited about science.
How can folks in the community support the foundation?
We have appreciated the donations and recognize this has not been an easy year for companies and individuals to give the extra. One way we have been able to continue fundraising is through a program called Commit to 36 (committo36.com). In a typical school year there are 36 weeks of school, so we encourage people to give $1 a week for 36 weeks—a number many people can commit to. We met our goal for that and will continue it this year. Our Denim and Dining this year is April 30 at Aldridge Gardens, where we can be outside and keep social distance. It will be a fun night out and is a casual event where you can wear your blue jeans and get together to raise money for Hoover City Schools. It’s back for 2021. Tickets are available at hoovercsf.org.