Etcetera - 12/07/10

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A local couple created the Gillespie Golden Onion Award to honor Walla Walla educators for excellence.

Longtime Walla Wallan and one-time teacher Sue Gillespie and husband Mike established the award to provide school supplies, equipment and professional development funds to Walla Walla educators.

"The Gillespie Teacher Development Fund was a gift to my husband Dr. Mike Gillespie for our 45th wedding anniversary," Sue said in the online Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review.

"Mike and his brother set up a similar foundation in Texas in honor of their mother Velma Freeman-Gillespie and Mike's aunt Zelma Freeman-Root, who both taught at Borger Junior High School in Texas for more than 25 years. Teachers are very important to us and they need our support. We want to make sure they are appreciated and recognized."

The Golden Onion Award will be presented annually to three district teachers representing elementary, middle school and high school grade levels. Each honoree will receive $500 for use in their classroom or to better their teaching skills.

Awards will be peer nominated and peer judged.

Nomination forms are available at the Walla Walla Public Schools District Office and the district website, www.wwps.org. The submission deadline is May 2, 2011. Recipients will be honored during the Walla Walla Public Schools All-Staff Breakfast on June 10.

The Gillespie Teacher Development Fund is a component fund of Blue Mountain Community Foundation with underlying investment at Edward Jones.

Sue taught social studies, science and math in high school and junior high school for 10 years in Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma and Okinawa, Japan. Mike is a retired orthopedic surgeon. Sue was office manager for Mike's orthopedic practice in Walla Walla and therefore did not return to teaching. The Gillespies raised three children here, all who attended Walla Walla Public Schools.

With more than 800 employees, 400 or so who are certified teachers, the school system serves 6,200 students in 10 schools.

BMCF has supported the giving of people who care about this area for 25-plus years. BMCF grants reach nearly $1.5 million each year. It has grown to more than 220 component funds, like the Gillespie Teacher Development Fund and Mike and Sue Gillespie Sustaining Endowment Fund, directed to benefit the people and progress of the Blue Mountain area. See www.bluemountainfoundation.org for additional details.

Contact Annie Charnley Eveland at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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