A familiar face is once again overseeing the Van Alstyne Education Foundation.
Mandy Montgomery recently assumed the role of executive director. She replaces Dacia McBride, who accepted a full-time teaching position with the district this summer.
"I think Dacia did a great job and I just want to carry it on," Montgomery said
Montgomery was instrumental in founding the foundation back in 2012. Her family moved to Van Alstyne in 2006 as it wanted a small-town experience. At the time, she put her career in finance on hold to stay at home with her three kids.
The quality school district was one of the main reasons she moved to the city. After a few years in the area, she approached then-Superintendent John Spies about starting an education foundation.
Spies had seen the benefits of such an organization at a previous career stop in Wylie and said he would help pitch the idea to the school board. Once its members agreed, Montgomery was ready to get to work.
With the help of community leaders Sam Atkins, Bill Benton, Bob Sandford and Donna Kern, they formed a board, established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and drafted the foundation’s bylaws.
"Then we had community members that gave the seed money," Montgomery recalled. "From there, it just took off."
This past year, the foundation awarded $40,000 in teacher grants and an equal amount in scholarships for graduating seniors.
For six years Montgomery served as the executive director in a volunteer capacity. At her recommendation, the foundation hired McBride as its first paid executive director.
After stepping back for a while, Montgomery said she now feels refreshed and ready to resume her role. She’s excited about new opportunities as the city continues to grow and new business come in. Her hope is the they will fall in love with the area and want to support its schools.
Of course, this may be one of the most challenging years to take over a job that involves extensive fundraising. Three yearly events account for a huge percentage of the foundation’s budget.
It was lucky that the annual gala was held in February, just before COVID-19 made large gatherings impossible. However, the Little Big Town 5K could not be held in May. In its place is a virtual run that the foundation has been promoting all summer.
Supporters can still register to participate in the run until Aug. 1. They have until Aug. 8 to complete their runs.
Montgomery also encourages the community to support the annual skeet shoot that is scheduled to be held Oct. 3. Hopes are that the event will proceed since the group sizes are small. Masks and social distancing requirements will likely be in effect.
Montgomery admits that her job is not an easy one, particularly in light of the pandemic. However, the foundation is a cause she truly believes in.
"It’s really been my passion. I think that what we do with teacher grants and senior scholarships is important," she said. "What I’m most proud of is that we have a group of such hard working and successful board members that all want to see the foundation succeed."