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LJISD Educational Excellence Foundation holds 3rd annual gala

$70,000 was raised for scholarships and teacher grants in La Joya before the district went on break for the holidays.

Vendors for the La Joya ISD gathered at Arelis Celebration Hall on Fri. Dec. 13 in order to celebrate giving back to the students and faculty that make up the district. Organized by the Educational Excellence Foundation, the Black and White Gala included live entertainment and a silent auction.

Board members for the La Joya ISD Educational Excellence Foundation pose at the 3rd annual Black and White Gala.Photo courtesy of LJISD Facebook.

“Teachers write grants to do a special project in their classroom, and the board of directors for the foundation read the grants and issue them out four times a year,” said Rita Garza Uresti, the director of the Educational Excellence Foundation. “The rest is for scholarships.”

Uresti added that there is a need for foundations like these to keep school districts across the state running.

“Funding is cut back every year in the state,” Garza said. “This is a nice little relief.”

Once the board decides which teachers will receive grant funding, the foundation presents them with a large check, like one a person would see at a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

“We go with balloons and a huge check and show up at the teacher’s classroom, and they start crying,” Uresti said. “If you go and see that experience, its fabulous.”

Uresti added that employees of LJISD often contribute to the foundation as well, and every event makes a difference for students and teachers in the classroom and beyond. For the Black and White Gala, those in attendance made even more charitable contributions as they played games throughout the evening where they could win various prizes.

Victor Garza, the president of the foundation’s board, spoke highly of the mission of the organization not only for teachers in need, but students.

“Our role as educators is to promote [education],” Garza said. “With the cost of living and the cost of education today, every cent and every dollar matters.”

He added that the district was grateful to the contributions made.

“We appreciate all our sponsors, contributors and staff who have found a way to be part of the gala in some form of fashion,” Garza said. “It’s a night to still solicit sponsorship and thank the people who have been helping us all along.”

Garza noted that the district works to ensure that those who are pursuing a higher education can count on LJISD even after their primary and secondary education has been completed.

“We want to promote that,” Garza said. “We want to make sure that even if it’s a small part of their education that we can be a part of, we’re proud of that.”

This article originally appeared in the Friday Dec. 20, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.

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