Asheville City Schools Foundation celebrates public education ‘Champions’

Here’s the press release from the Asheville City Schools Foundation:

(Asheville, NC) The Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) is concerned about the growing threat to privatize and weaken North Carolina’s public schools. We support a system of revenue reform that adequately funds public schools so that every child can receive a quality education. We believe in restoring lost education funding for all public schools, investing in high-quality teachers, and building safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. We oppose vouchers, tax credits, discretionary reduction, privatization and funding only one district per county because these erode public education funding, resources, and staffing necessary for the success of all students.

The next few years will be pivotal for public education. The ACSF is effectively promoting public education in our region by fulfilling the role of critical friend to the Asheville City Schools. The ACSF has served as a unique voice in the community because we have raised concerns about the new public school options while also challenging the Asheville City Schools to be better.

The highly engaged and progressive nature of the Asheville community lends itself to openness towards alternative schools like charters and virtual options. As advocates for students in poverty, we have challenged the seemingly progressive charter schools to address the access issues and asked that our community hold all public schools accountable for sharing the responsibility of caring for vulnerable children. We have also responded to gaps and short-comings in the Asheville City Schools by piloting cutting-edge programs that have reflected the forward-thinking of our community and enhanced community approval for our traditional public schools. We have helped put public education on the list of issues that garner intense attention by challenging elected officials at all levels to take positions on issues that affect education.

Regardless of where one chooses to send his or her child, most children in our community will attend public schools. It is undeniable that the health and strength of our public schools will determine the success of our community in the future. The NC legislature is considering changes that will further defund education, leaving teachers without adequate training and children without textbooks. We cannot depend on Raleigh to take care of our children – we will have to ensure the success of the 4,000 children we serve ourselves by providing adequate resources and support for the Asheville City Schools. –Kate Pett, Executive Director or Asheville City Schools Foundation

Public Schools First NC states “North Carolinians understand that education is the ‘great equalizer’ for our citizens, and each child’s right to an excellent public education is guaranteed in our state constitution.”

Watch the informational video produced by Public Schools First NC:

Celebrating Champions:

The Asheville City Schools Foundation will honor exceptional leaders of the Asheville City Schools district at the annual Celebration for Champions, to be held at UNCA Sherrill Center, Sunday, April 14th at 6:00 pm. The winners were chosen from a group of a dozen community-selected nominees, include Gina Gallo through her nonprofit leadership with the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, who has continued to be an advocate for the support and success of middle school students in new and comprehensive ways, former Co-Director of Asheville City Schools Foundation, Leah Ferguson and Asheville Grown Business Alliance founder Franzi Charen, two community partners who founded the “Go Local Card” campaign raising funds and awareness for schools and local businesses, Norma Palmer with PAWS on a Mission who has been arranging therapeutic dogs to come to Hall Fletcher Elementary two days a week for the last five years, and Tracy Dew who is a parent whose tireless volunteerism led to the creation of the Community Outreach Coordinator position because of her many efforts.

For the first time ever, a fifth award will also be chosen through an online voting poll that will be posted on the Asheville City Schools Foundation’s Facebook page. This “Community Choice Award” will be announced at the Celebration of Champions event and selected from several of the nominees. “The Community Choice Award, is all about engaging our community in the decision making process-because these are their schools’ true heroes.” says Kate Pett, Executive Director of the Asheville City Schools Foundation.

The public is invited to celebrate the entire group of nominees, which includes Zach Wetmore and Phillip Padilla of the Asheville Fire Department, Tim Hanlon, a parent at Ira B. Jones Elementary, Ray and Debbie Gurriere volunteers at Hall Fletcher Elementary, John Ptak a volunteer at Isaac Dickson Elementary, Jim Wallis a volunteer for Asheville City Schools, Everette William Clark a volunteer for Asheville City Schools and Asheville High School’s SERVE club volunteering with Isaac Dickson’s Bright IDEAS program.

About the Event:

Celebration for Champions is the Asheville City Schools Foundation’s signature annual event. Since 1989, Celebration has raised money for the Foundation’s cornerstone programs: student scholarships, professional development opportunities for teachers, and parent and community involvement. The Celebration of Champions award encourages individuals and organizations to engage with city schools and recognize the value a thriving public school system provides for the whole community.

The event will start at 6pm featuring live music by The John Henry’s, an incredible dinner service and banquet recognizing the work of the five Champions through short film segments, a live auction with Auctioneer Ben Martin, a silent auction offering Asheville themed packages valued over $500 each, delectable appetizers by Posana Restaurant and everyone’s favorite truffles by French Broad Chocolate Lounge. A special pre-event reception featuring a chance to win a free drawing for the “Go Local” prize package, Biltmore Wines and French Broad Brewing Company will be held for VIPs at 5:30pm. Tickets for the event are $50 apiece for individuals, $85 for couples and $75 apiece for VIPs.

The mission of the Asheville City Schools Foundation is to promote educational success for all students in Asheville City Schools by engaging the entire community to support enriching and innovative educational activities. For more information about Celebration of Champions or the Asheville City Schools Foundation, see our web site at For inquiries about sponsorship or if you or your company wants to make a special acknowledgement to one of the awardees in the event program, please contact Development Director, Erica Bell at


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