In Memoriam – Billie Williams

Billie Williams encouraged the formation of the NTEF when it was just an idea. She financially supported the organization throughout her life and lived the mission of the Foundation. First hired by Charles Callahan she taught at North Thurston and moved to Timberline in 1970 where she taught until her retirement.  Billie continued to teach at Evergreen State College. Serving as guide for many teachers and students, Billie loved to travel and those who followed her across France were treated with an unforgettable experience. She is remembered by her students and fellow teachers as an outstanding educator, kind, wise and full of energy. She will be missed by her family, friends and the members of the Foundation.

Picture below: From the 1974 Annual when she was teacher of the year, an award she won multiple times. Patt Hawthorne, who was Honor Society Advisor and oversaw student selection of Teacher of the Year, once remarked that if they strictly followed their own criteria for selecting the Teacher of the Year, Billie would win it every year.


In Memoriam – Ian Edlund

Ian served on the Board while also serving as orchestra teacher at North Thurston High School and leading the Olympia Symphony Orchestra. He retired from the district after 30 years as a teacher and served as the conductor of the symphony for 27 years. Along with owning a business and composing over 70 orchestral pieces, Ian still found time to serve on the NTEF Board. He and his wife, Marj, continued to support the Foundation’s mission throughout his life.

In Memoriam – Paul Stebbins

Paul served on our Board for a short time, however, his movement to an Ambassador for NTEF became a driving force for our organization. As a resident of Panorama, Paul became an advocate on behalf of NTEF. He educated the residents of Panorama on the importance of investing in the future of the children in North Thurston Public Schools. He organized the residents and they attended our annual Fundraising Luncheon. Paul was always a willing helper in anything that came his way. He will be truly missed, not only by our board, but the residents of Panorama and the students they helped.

In Memoriam – Bill Williams

The North Thurston Education Foundation is saddended by the passing of Bill Williams, Paul Stubbins, Ian Edlund and Billie Williams. We are so thankful for their generosity and involvement with NTEF over the years and wish their families peace and comfort.

Bill Williams was a long time, dedicated member and generous supporter of the North Thurston Education Foundation. Throughout his nine years on the board, Bill was integral in expanding the mission and outreach of the foundation. He graciously served NTEF in many capacities—as Treasurer, on the Executive Committee, with the Investment Committee, co-chairing the Scholarship Committee and drafting our scholarship agreements.

Bill worked tirelessly behind the scenes in our community to strengthen the mission and organization of our foundation, to educate others about our important work, as a trusted liaison with potential donors, and as a strong advocate for students in our community—especially students in need. At board meetings and in our community, he was the voice of reason with a keen vision of how most effectively to support the students in the North Thurston Public Schools.

His invaluable skills, wise counsel, kind heart, and genuine concern for others will truly be missed, not only by the North Thurston Education Foundation, but also by everyone touched by our important work.  Bill Williams compassionately and selflessly embodied our motto, “It’s for the kids.”

NTEF Also Contributed $14,638.35 to Pay Uncollected School Lunch Debt

The North Thurston Education Foundation paid off school lunch debt for hundreds of North Thurston Public School District (NTPS) families.

A 2018 change in state law requires schools to provide meals to students even if their account is in the red. The law is design to stop what’s called “lunch shaming.”

NTEF donated $14,638.35 to NTPS to help clear the balance accrued in uncollected debt for students who qualify for free or reduced meals. The National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and offers free and reduced priced meals to qualifying students, but many students don’t apply in time to avoid a balance or the program doesn’t cover the full cost of the meal and therefore leaves a balance.

With the help and support of donors’ generous support and contributions, the North Thurston Education Foundation was able to pay the balance of this debt in full. “We are so pleased to be able to assist students in NTPS schools in this way, and to continue in our mission to remove barriers and enhance learning for our students,” said Mike Jones, Executive Director of NTEF.

Thank you to Brenda McAferty, McKinney Vento & Foster Care Liaison with North Thurston Public Schools for Your Support of North Thurston Students!

“I am writing to share our appreciation for the amazing support North Thurston Education Foundation (NTEF) has provided to students in North Thurston Public Schools. Currently there are over 750 students who qualify for services under the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act, due to housing instability and homelessness. Additionally, there are countless more families who have access to housing, but struggle on a daily basis to provide the most basic needs for their children.

When our community began to feel the effects of COVID-19, and schools were suddenly closed, NTEF stepped up immediately, and asked what was needed to support our students. During this unprecedented time, families who have never experienced financial struggles in the past, suddenly find themselves without a job. They are not only struggling to keep food on the table, but unable to pay their rent or mortgages. The Family & Youth Resource (FYR) Center, with the financial help from NTEF and donations from the community, has been able to provide food, hygiene kits, household items, and fuel cards to over 100 families per week through our drive-thru program. None of this would be possible without the generous support of NTEF.” ~Brenda McAferty, NTPS McKinney Vento Student Navigator and Foster Care Liaison 

Thanks Brenda for the kind words, and all of your hard work for students in our district!

Thank You For Your Support for Our “Sponsor A Senior” Program!

“Thank you so much for your support of the Sponsor A Senior Program. It’s so wonderful each year to hand out graduation cap and gowns to our very exciting seniors. This year it was even more moving knowing what each of them went through to get to graduation. I won’t get to go cheer for them this year at the ceremony, they didn’t get a prom for me to gush over them, and no honors night, but giving them the gift card and an overflowing goodie bag of treats was wonderful and all were so moved by how we made it special for them!

Thank you for allowing us to celebrate their achievements and assuring each one got to walk if they wanted to. This program makes such a huge difference to our homeless students to insure equity and inclusion.” ~Deanna East, NTPS McKinney Vento Student Navigator

Thank you very much to Academy Mortgage who made a generous contribution of $1500.00 to the Sponsor A Senior Program! We are so thankful for your ongoing support!

Student Scholarship Testimonial – Julian Ruatos

“The application process went really smoothly thanks to Mrs. Stepherson, from River Ridge’s College & Career Center, who helped me— she is an amazing resource for scholarships and the instructions were easy and transparent,” says Julian Ruatos, 2020 graduate of River Ridge High School and recipient of the Frank Parker Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $7,250.

This scholarship was established as a memorial to Frank Parker. A true renaissance man, Parker was a US Navy pilot, electrical engineer, musician, lover of outdoor pursuits and a great raconteur. As the owner of Parko Electronics, his creativity and superior problem-solving skills enabled him to contribute to the success of NASA’s Apollo Project. (Some of the parts he designed are currently resting on the moon as part of the Apollo landing.)

This scholarship is for a student who intends to pursue coursework with a math or science focus who will attend a two or four-year college or university. This scholarship is for $2000 but with evidence of success each year, the scholarship is renewable for $1,750 each year for 3 years, to total $7,250.

Julian plans to attend the University of Washington Seattle Campus and is enrolled in the College of Engineering program to study mechanical engineering. “The North Thurston Education Foundation Scholarship will be a tremendous help for me this upcoming school year. By allowing me the opportunity to focus more on my academics and less on the stress from tuition and other expenses, I am far more confident and prepared moving forward into my freshman year!”

Congratulations Julian and best wishes!