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Building on the Foundation

Featured Photo from Building on the Foundation

The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools announces a new executive director and a new name for its free teacher store

A heartfelt congratulations and a warm welcome to Jean Vansmith, the new executive director of The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools. Jean now leads the foundation’s mission to work with businesses and the community to raise funds to support students and teachers in Seminole County Public Schools.

Prior to joining the foundation, Jean worked in the political and campaign arena, most recently as government relations director at Florida Hospital. There she managed a million-dollar budget, increased funding and resources for various programs, and developed strong relationships with community leaders.

Jean is also no stranger to the world of education. She discovered the opening for the foundation’s executive director position while serving as a high-school mentor with its Take Stock in Children program, a volunteer position she still holds.

“I’m really excited to get the word out about the foundation,” says Jean. “Some say it’s one of Seminole County’s best-kept secrets, and I want to let everyone know about this great organization.” 

Jean’s goal is to make sure all the foundation’s existing programs are well-funded, well-managed, and well-run. 

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to support and serve students and teachers,” says Jean. “Our team will continue working to encourage our community to volunteer, donate, and benefit from partnering with the foundation.”

Jean works closely with Dr. Walt Griffin, Seminole County Public Schools superintendent, to meet the school district’s priorities: to provide resources in classrooms to enhance student performance, to remove barriers faced by school children, and to provide educators and staff with professional development and recognition.“I look forward to collaborating with Jean and for her to be part of the SCPS leadership team,” says Dr. Griffin. “She brings lots of experience, community connections, and an incredible work ethic to our organization.”

Well-known programs managed by the foundation include Arts Alive in Seminole, Backpacks for Success, the Families in Need Fund, and the Environmental Center, among several other programs, events, and scholarship opportunities.

New Name in Store

Most recently, the foundation announced the new name for its free teacher store, which offers SCPS teachers an opportunity to shop for classroom supplies and materials at no cost. 

Formerly known as A Gift for Teaching – Seminole, the store opened in 2010 in partnership with the Gift for Teaching organization that serves all of Central Florida. Since then, the store has hosted more than 14,000 shopping visits and distributed more than $8 million in supplies to students and teachers. Due to the store’s tremendous growth over the years, it officially became independent in early May and was rebranded as Tools 4 Seminole Schools.

With more than half of Seminole County’s student population qualifying for the free or reduced meals program, the need to provide basic school supplies like notebooks, backpacks, and pencils is critical. Tools 4 Seminole Schools is open year-round to collect, store, and distribute school supplies and classroom materials to help alleviate the costly burden on both teachers and low-income parents.

“We’re excited about our new name and the opportunities it brings,” says Becky Miller, Tools 4 Seminole Schools store supervisor. “We’re able to provide the same great services to our students and teachers while ensuring our funding efforts directly benefit Seminole County Public Schools.”

How You Can Help This Summer

It’s easy! Host a school supply drive with your business, professional association, or civic group. Donations can be dropped off at Tools 4 Seminole Schools, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 1780 West Airport Boulevard, Sanford. Call 407-320-7768 or email to schedule your visit.

Or, you can make a financial donation to Tools 4 Seminole Schools, and the program will leverage the funds to purchase school supplies at deep discounts.

Anyone interested in donating can drop off supplies at the Tools 4 Seminole Schools store.

The Top 10 List of Needed Supplies

1. 12 pack, #2 pencils
2. 12 pack, colored pencils
3. 24 pack, crayons
4. Student scissors
5. Pink erasers
6. Glue sticks
7. 8 or 10 pack, colored markers
8. Pocket folders
9. Wide-ruled notebook paper
10. Wide-ruled spiral notebooks

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