Gering School Board hears foundation’s vision from new director

February 20, 2019

GERING — Newly-hired Gering Public Schools Foundation and community engagement coordinator Jennifer Sibal shared her areas of focus so the foundation is successful and the community is involved with the district.

Over the past three weeks, Sibal has focused on building relationships with the district faculty and community, while also asking questions, she told Gering school board members.

She also began developing branding logos and a social media presence for the foundation as well as held a foundation board meeting. Sibal is working with the board to expand the current board.

“We shared what the past has been for the foundation and it was actually established in 1989, according to our by laws,” said Sibal. “We also shared a vision for the future.”

Sibal commended the current board members for keeping the foundation afloat and said there is excitement for the future.

She has also reached out to foundation donors and connected student scholarship recipients to those donors.

“Not only am I getting really positive comments back from donors, but I’m also getting some really great feedback from those scholarship recipients, who have been waiting for someone to thank and now they have the opportunity to do that,” said Sibal.

Looking ahead, some of the future projects Sibal is working on include:

— Completion of the foundation webpage

— Create online giving options

— Develop ways to capture alumni information

— Create foundation communication plan and calendar with a focus on storytelling

— Prepare for first formal foundation meeting to establish structure, update by laws and policies

— Develop advisory committee for high school career academies

Gering Public Schools board president B.J. Peters said, “It is critical that we have an alumni database. I think we’ve got an alumni base that can really help you be successful.”

Sibal will begin developing a database Wednesday as she meets with the Gering High School registrar’s office going through records. She had undertaken a similar project during her time at Western Nebraska Community College, prior to this position.

“We’re hearing great things,” said Peters. “You’re hitting the ground running, which is critical. This board has made the foundation a priority as far as our strategic plan, so we just needed the right person and I think we found her.”

Superintendent Bob Hastings discussed the progress on the Gering High School construction project as the locker rooms enter the construction phase in the coming weeks. The front part of the locker rooms will turn over at the end of basketball season along with the weight room.

“We have been working diligently to try to figure out how we’re going to handle the placement of all the equipment,” he said. “Initially, we thought we would be able to use the new wrestling room, but because getting to the wrestling room puts you through a construction zone, which we can’t put our kids through, we are working through those details.”

Hastings added that to have the locker rooms available for the fall sports, construction had to begin in the spring.

The school board approved the retirement of GHS math teacher Kim Graslie and English teacher Roxann Thompson. A pay application #10 to Hausmann Construction for $1,004,605.86 for the high school construction project was also approved.

“Thompson and Graslie were great teachers,” said board member Brady Shaul. “They’ve earned it.”

Mary Winn added that Graslie is “all about the kids. There aren’t many teachers who go to speech meets the way some go to basketball or football games.”

The district will lose over 100 years of experience with the departures of Graslie, Thompson and science teacher Randy Johnson at the end of the 2018-19 academic year.