Behind the Scenes: Executive Director on the Impact Education Foundation Makes on Every Student

State College Area School District Executive Director Paul Olivett believes in the little things that can make a difference in a student’s experiences at a big school like State High. He knows from personal experience, as his two kids went through SCASD and reaped the benefits of the numerous opportunities and activities offered. That’s why he’s been instrumental in launching a Foundation to ensure the ongoing support for the the tools, resources, and opportunities available for all students.

“Part of the mission of the Foundation will be to connect students to the community and the community to the students,” he said. “We want people to know about the incredibly dedicated and engaged student body and how they impact the community in positive ways – beyond what you might read in the sports section.”

You’ve been instrumental in launching the Foundation last year. Why do you believe in the mission of the SCASD Education Foundation?
I think it’s the extra things that can make a difference in the life of a student at a big school like State College. Being involved in a club or taking a class that really interests you that may not be a part of the traditional curriculum or maybe having access to counseling when you are going through a tough time. Those are the kinds of things that will help kids feel more attached to a community within the District.

How will the Foundation work in partnership with the District to offer a well-rounded educational experience to each student?
The Foundation will work to support and promote the programs and ideas that the District and the community feel are important. We did a comprehensive survey of the various stakeholders (board, parents, alumni, teachers, administrators) which will help us determine which programs are most important to those groups and the community at large. Based on the results of that survey and in consultation with Superintendent Bob O’Donnell, the Foundation will work to promote and gain support for those programs.

Why is community support critical to the Foundation’s success?
The School District belongs to the community and it is our job at the Foundation to tell the story of the School District and give people specific examples of how the District has a positive effect on students. There is an incredible depth and breadth to what is happening at the District every day and I think people in this community will feel even stronger about the District as we tell those stories.

What is the impact that the Foundation will have on students? On the community at large?
Part of the mission of the Foundation will be to connect students to the community and the community to the students. We want people to know about the incredibly dedicated and engaged student body and how they impact the community in positive ways – beyond what you might read in the sports section.

What is your background?
My wife Denise and I have lived in State College for 20 years. We’ve both been active volunteers with the District and the community and have two children that went through the District (one graduated, one still there). I’ve been a professional fundraiser for 25 years and have worked at a variety of organizations including Penn State.

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