BROCKWAY — Lisa Rutherford of DuBois has taught in the Brockway Area School District, but now she has taken on a new role as executive director of the Brockway Schools & Community Education Foundation.
This summer, the school board hired her for the new part-time position.
A separate entity from the Brockway Area School District, the non-profit foundation accepts individual and business contributions, and then uses the money to help students in a variety of ways outside of the school district’s normal curriculum.
For example, the foundation has contributed $120,000 for 372 college credits earned by 124 students through dual enrollment programs with local colleges and universities since its inception in 2013, according to information from the foundation.
People in the district know Rutherford already because she did her student teaching and was a long-term and day-to-day substitute there.
As the executive director of the foundation, she will seek to increase grants and donations to the foundation; handle public relations; and write the foundation’s newsletter.
“I’m really excited because it combines business, education and the arts,” she said of her new position.
She believes her diverse background and experience in business, professional education, and the arts makes her the perfect fit for the job.
“I was a pharmaceutical sales rep for 20 years, so I’ve had a lot of business experience; I have a master’s degree in education (in curriculum and instruction); and I’ve taught full-time and part-time since 2007,” she said. She added that she is one of the founders of CRI, Cultural Resources Inc., and The Reitz Theater Players in DuBois.
“I’m used to giving talks to the public, I’m used to seeing people face-to-face working in sales, which is what a lot of this encompasses,” Rutherford added. She also said her education background allows her to see what the students need and what direction will be best for them.
She said people are receptive to her and excited when she talks about the foundation.
“I’m loving it,” she said of her new job. “It has really kept me hopping. I’m able to focus all of my skills and do everything I’ve always loved to do in one place.”
In the future, she would like to showcase past donors and the accomplishments of students who have been helped by the foundation.
And she wants to educate people about the foundation.
“I don’t think a lot of people know what this foundation is all about, and I don’t think they’ve even heard of it,” she said.
She said the foundation is a way to reach out to the students in the community of Brockway, and enable them to reach goals that were perhaps not available to them in the past, due to financial difficulties.
She said the foundation seeks to provide grants that students can apply to a vocation or furthering their education.
She noted that the hope is that students can come back to Brockway as a productive member of the community or “take their talent as a leader in a new community.”
In one of her first duties, Rutherford will be conducting a direct mail campaign for the foundation to district alumni, local businesses and regional vendors that contract through the district, as well a phone campaign to reach out to businesses. She also plans to create a Facebook page and website for the foundation.
She is considering holding wine and cheese tastings, open houses or meet-and-greets to recognize past donors and student recipients.
Also, she would like to have a free “Friend-raiser” where kindergarten students could get together at the Brockway pool next year in the summer. At the event, information would be provided to parents on how they could contribute to the foundation, financially or with time. She said the foundation will also have a float in the Brockway Fourth of July parade next summer.
Currently, she is working with the Brockway Business Association to create a community action outreach service. She said it will probably consist of a website with information about the community, such as a community calendar of events and activities in and around the Brockway area.
In addition, Rutherford wants to find out what people think about the foundation, and if they are even aware of it.
“One of my goals is to put it on the map, so to speak.”
She said district superintendent Dan Hawkins has an ambitious goal for the foundation in assisting students.
“Dan’s goal, with me in this position, is to have students graduate their senior year with an associate’s degree in something, to be able to provide enough free education that they can leave here not only with a high school diploma but an associate’s degree in something,” she said. “It’s a very lofty goal, but it’s doable.”
She is positive that the community will embrace the foundation.
“I think it will really fly once people find out about it. They will see a way to give back to the students, and make our community more prosperous.”
Rutherford and her husband, John, have two sons, Steve and Tate, who both currently attend Penn State University at University Park. She also works as an adjunct instructor of English at Penn State DuBois, where she teaches College Writing and Rhetoric and a World Mythology Course.
She serves on the board of directors with CRI and is a committee member for the Reitz Theater Players. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and catering for her friends. In addition, she is the choreographer/art director for the Brockway High School Drama Club and director/choreographer for the Reitz Theater Players.
For more information about the foundation, call Rutherford at her office at Brockway High School at (814) 265-1940 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Starting Monday, she works 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.