Skip to content

Sharyland Education Foundation celebrates 20 years, bids farewell to superintendent

The Sharyland Education Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary with past and present members while also bidding farewell to superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri.

Vidaurri wipes away tears as her assistant superintendent speaks on behalf of the school district. Progress Times photo by Maria Ruiz.

Sharyland ISD students performed for guests in the Texas Regional Bank parking lot last Thursday, with Griffin Parkway echoing with mariachi music and the clicking heels of Folklorico dancers.

Sarah Samaniego, president of the Sharyland Education Foundation, greeted guests who have philanthropically served since its establishment in 2003.

“Twenty years, it’s a pretty big deal,” Samaniego said. “We’re only as strong as our community, and I will say Sharyland is very unique in what we have.”

The Sharyland Education Foundation began in 2003 as a non-profit organization to supply the district with educational resources and tools via fundraising.

Inside the bank’s lobby, attendees watched a compilation video of service acts the foundation has accomplished throughout the years.

Dr. Maria Vidaurri stands beside the Sharyland Board of Trustees at the Sharyland Education Foundation 20th anniversary on March 21, 2024. Progress Times photo by Maria Ruiz.

Samaniego also recognized the founders of the foundation, welcoming the first president of the foundation, and former school board trustee Melissa M. Smith, who received engraved gavels as honorary gifts.

“The leaders, their beautiful vision for supporting our school district is beyond what we could have dreamed that it would become. Their values have continued and are the building blocks for growth today, ” she said. “We do have a lot to be proud of.”

Since 2003, the organization has given out 844 teacher grants and raised $991,099 in student grants.

Two notable fundraisers that help the cause are the Denim & Diamonds concert and the annual Superintendent’s Golf Classic Tournament. The Denim & Diamonds concert funds yearly teacher grants, whereas the Superintendent’s Golf Classic Tournament raises funds for annual scholarships.

The Foundation has also participated in Teacher of the Year and recently expanded into the Region One Education Service Center, where two teachers were recognized for their educational influence.

“There’s quite a few things the Education Foundation has become involved in that maybe wasn’t thought of back then, but it just evolved, and we have a really amazing relationship with the school district and our board members,” said Samaniego.

With the SEF’s evolution, Samaniego thanked Vidaurri for her contribution to education during her six years as superintendent, bringing her over to the podium.

Vidaurri, who began as superintendent in 2016, wiped away tears, humbled by the recognition she received.

“As I stand here tonight reflecting on the past six years, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent. Sharyland ISD holds an incredible, special place in my heart, and it has been an honor of a lifetime,” Vidaurri said. “It’s been great working alongside such dedicated educators, staff, students and community members…I think one of the things I will miss the most is sitting at their activities and their presentations, because it’s just amazing. It reminds us of what we’re here for.”

She then went off script to address the Foundation.

“Everybody can raise money, and everybody can do it well and do a good job,” Vidaurri said. “But why you’ve had twenty years of excellence is because of who you are.”

Vidaurri hopes that SISD will hold on to its traditions and educational excellence as she moves on to the next part of her journey.

“When you do this work, the passion that drives you to do this work…it’s all about the kids, it’s all about doing what we can, it’s all about improvement,” she said. “When I find myself at this point right now, I start asking myself ‘Is it enough? Did I make an impact?'”

And hearing words of kindness and gratitude from colleagues and partners at the 20th anniversary affirmed that she left her mark.

“It filled my heart,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.”

Leave a Comment