Van Buren School District’s education foundation helps turn teachers into dreamers, said the district superintendent.

Van Buren School District has a unique concept in how its education foundation operates, said Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat while speaking to those attending the kick-off luncheon for the annual fund drive for the Van Buren School District Education Foundation on Tuesday.

“A lot of times education foundations are geared toward athletics, and that’s fine; I think that’s great,” Jeffcoat said. “But the concept we have here is really a beautiful concept. We allow our school district to have dreamers.”

Providing classrooms additional money through grants allows teachers to develop their own specialized ideas about how to improve the learning experience for students, Jeffcoat said.

Citing the example of King Elementary School’s award winning educational gardens and recycling programs, Jeffcoat commented that the VBSD has become a “strong leader in education.”

He thanked donors for their contributions, which fund the grants awarded by the foundation to district teachers.

“Our future here in Van Buren is very bright, and it’s because of these kids, it’s because of these teachers and it’s because of you, so thank you,” Jeffcoat said.

The Van Buren School District Education Foundation was created to provide funding to support programs and activities for students that are beyond the budgetary means of the school district.

Funds provided by the foundation directly benefit students and teachers in the VBSD and make a positive difference for all students, said Debbie Thomas, education foundation director.

To date, 659 grants have been awarded totaling $891,409.33.

Recognized at Tuesday’s luncheon were those who have already donated for 2017.

Teachers and staff of the Van Buren School District pledged the largest amount, $11,280, followed by Ed and Shirley Yeager, who pledged $10,000.

Making $5,000 pledges are Malone’s Mechanical, Ken and Vicki Kilgore, and Experian.

Kevin and Edie Bell, Jimmy Bell Real Estate and Bank of the Ozark all donated $2,500. Crawford Construction and Bill and Debbie Thomas both donated $1,200.

Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Today’s Bank, USAble Life, Hawkins-Weir Engineering, Rhodes Chevrolet, Cameron Hubbs Construction, and Criswell Clinic donated $1,000 each.

Nathan Hurst, Van Buren School District Education Foundation board president, called the donations an “investment in the community” and recognized the remaining contributors.

“There are many donors and companies that donated smaller amounts, and that makes a huge difference,” Hurst said.

The luncheon was held Tuesday at Heritage United Methodist Church.