This year’s Boots, Bling, and Big Dreams Gala was a huge success. Thanks to our community which includes generous sponsors, auction donors, and dedicated Board Members, we surpassed our initial goal of $325,000. This year, we also raised money for our JROTC’s Fund-A-NEED for their 50-ft rappel tower, the first of its kind outside of a military installation in San Antonio.
The Boots, Bling, and Big Dreams Gala was held on Saturday, March 4th at Pedrotti’s Ranch, where guests were greeted by students of NEISD’s Cheer and Spirit team as well as the LEE High School drumline. The gala included over 100 silent auction items and showcased grants in action. NEEF grants funded last year were displayed by NEISD’s STEM Academy at LEE High School, STEM at Nimitz Middle School, CTEC Construction Technology Academy, and the Agriscience Magnet Program at Madison High School.
STEM Academy at LEE High School’s Director, Jennifer Jensen, teacher Amber Clark, and several students explained how the digital cadaver, or anatomage table, benefitted students interested in medical science. Meanwhile, STEM at Nimitz Middle School teacher, Kimberly Ochoa, illustrated how NEISD uses cutting-edge virtual reality to teach science concepts with virtual reality goggles and Merge Cubes.
Shawn Jensen from the CTEC Construction Technology Academy Director, and student, Nathaniel Pena showed the progress of the construction of the tiny cabin through visual aids. Finally, the Agriscience Magnet Program highlighting Guide Dogs for the Blind was onsite bringing 2 lab puppies in training and their handlers.
Our presenting sponsor, Gordon Hartman, founder of the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation, spoke about the collaboration between the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation and NEISD. The evening entertainment was performed by the Rick Cavender Band, MacArthur High School’s Grupo Folklorico Magnifico, and LEE High School’s Mariachi Unido Ensemble. NEISD School Board President Shannon Grona led the room of 650 guests in a Toast to Teachers tradition.
NEISD’s JROTC Director of Army Instruction, Col. William LaChance introduced this year’s Fund-A-Need project, a 50-foot rappel tower at Camp Henson. The rappel tower will help students gain confidence, trust, character, motivation, and teamwork. While the tower is being built by the JROTC department, it will serve as the location for JROTC national competitions, as well as serving other NEISD programs, staff, and community members.
NEEF’s mission is to raise funds to develop and expand educational opportunities in NEISD schools. For the 2022-2023 school year, more than $271,00 was distributed in classroom grants for innovative projects. NEEF wants to give a Texas-sized ‘THANK YOU!’ to everyone who attended and helped us raise over $350,000.