Gail Faber is the Academic Fundraising Partnership president at Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School. (photo by John Gregory)
A focus on enrichment
Gail Faber, the president of Ellen Browning Scripps (EBS) Elementary School’s Academic Fundraising Partnership (AFP), can be described as energetic and ambitious.
Faber, a full-time mortgage loan officer for EverBank with 20 years in the business, has a son in third grade at EBS and a daughter in sixth grade at Marshall Middle School. She somehow finds the time to lead the EBS AFP and has been involved for the last seven years. Now she is in the first year of a two-year term as AFP president.
While the school has many programs to enrich students’ education, Faber has still more programs she is planning to develop. She has some innovative ideas. A couple of these are just concepts right now.
“My goal is not to fundraise, my goal is to build a community,” she said. “When you build a community, then you’ll get the fundraising behind it.”
Faber explained that her children attended a preschool that had a very good support system built into it. She wants to eventually do the same at EBS. For instance, if a family experiences a death or a serious illness or needs help, she wants the school community to have a way to offer real support.
“There are military people. There are people who don’t have family in town who really just need that extra hand every once-in-a -while,” she said. “I’m trying to set up a committee that if someone did lose somebody or if something happened, that they can count on the families at EBS to be able to help out.”
Faber recently met with a group of fathers to talk about getting the men more involved in school programs and fundraising. From this sprouted a concept about holding an event to celebrate the many cultures at EBS. The event might involve parents and students bringing different foods representing their cultures to school so other students can sample them.
“EBS is interesting because we have a lot of different cultures here,” Faber explained. “We have a lot of very wealthy families. We have families that travel 45 minutes to get here to school. We have military families. We have people who work full-time jobs but then people more worried about getting their tennis game in. So, you have a huge variety of people. How do you get everybody to come together for the sake of the kids and the school itself?”
As the president of the AFP, she is surprisingly easy-going and approachable.
“I’m all about listening to people’s opinions and seeing how to make the school better,” she said.
That’s not to say Faber thinks EBS has shortcomings; quite the opposite is true.
“We have excellent teachers in every single grade. You’re not really concerned about who you get,” she said.
She named off a list of several programs at EBS that supplement classroom learning. Some are fairly new, such as Movie Night at the beginning of the school year, and Fifth Grade Family Science Night. But there is also an innovative Astronomy Night. EBS partners with Mission Federal Credit Union, which visits the school, teaches students about personal finance and allows them to regularly make deposits into their personal bank accounts. There is the Fifth Grade Character Ed program in which parent volunteers teach a character trait, such as respect, and then the fifth graders take the lessons and teach them to the younger students. There is the Everyone’s A Reader program in which community volunteers come in to the school to help early readers on a one-to-one basis.
Under Principal Liz Sloan, EBS was named a California Gold Ribbon School In 2016. This award recognizes California schools “that have made exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for all students.” In short, the school did an outstanding job of implementing Common Core.
A new program that just began is called EBS After School Enrichments. The program begins right after school and lasts for an hour. Students who participate can choose from a number of subjects.
So far, the EBS After School Enrichments program offers instruction in yoga, hip-hop dance, ukulele, guitar and an assortment of sports. One of the EBS teachers volunteers to hold a public speaking class.
Faber said the school is trying to involve members of the community as After School Enrichments instructors. Right now they are seeking someone to teach Spanish.
“It gives them a different avenue if they don’t want to go into the S.A.Y. program. Or, instead of going to the Swim & Racquet Club, they (parents) can keep them here and buy an extra hour more of school,” she explained.