About BVEF

The Bennett Valley Education Foundation (BVEF or Foundation) was established in 1992 as a California non-profit tax exempt corporation and is legally and financially separate from the school district. At that time, state budget cuts and education cuts resulted in school curriculum cuts and more were expected. In the summer of that year, a group of concerned parents took action to form an ad hoc committee and the roots of the organization were born. Since that time and, through the efforts and with the support of a great many in the community, arts education has been preserved for our children.

Under the bylaws, the BVEF is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors which includes four ex-officio members (the Superintendent, The President of the Board of Trustees and two teacher representatives) and at least twelve members from the school district community. While the Foundation is independent, we work to communicate and cooperate with the teachers, the district staff, and trustees as we share the goal of ensuring top quality education for all the children of our District.

Our Mission Statement: To raise funds to support and enhance the educational experiences of the students of the Bennett Valley Union School District. The Foundation currently funds the District-wide Art and Music Programs.

Just some benefits of arts education in young lives:
– Art stimulates both sides of the brain
– Multiple studies have shown that kids who make art both read better and also score better in both science and mathematics
– Art promotes self esteem
– Art develops better hand/eye coordination
– Art teaches creative problem solving
– Art promotes team work, creates cultural and historical awareness, and provides affirmation through achievement
– Art nourishes the human soul

Click here to read over our program brochure for 2020-2021

Our Programs

Multicultural Music, Movement, and Dance with Tina Malone: Earnestine (Tina) Malone has been dancing for 30+ years and teaching dance for 20 years. Her childhood dreams of following her uncle’s footsteps as a Broadway dancer and choreographer led her to launch M. Studio Dance Company in 2010 and after school program “KidzGroove” in 2011. At both Yulupa and Strawberry Schools, Tina teaches students to express themselves with dance, enjoy dance as exercise, and appreciate the origins of the dances they perform. Students establish a cultural connection to each grade level’s history curriculum.

Strawberry Gleeagles Choir Director Marla Tusa: Marla Tusa is a dedicated and passionate musical professional who brings over 15 years of formal music teaching experience with all age groups to the Bennett Valley District.  Marla is the Director of the Training and Intermediate Groups for the Santa Rosa Children’s Choral Academy, and effectively fosters a love of music in all of her students.  A gifted vocalist and instrumentalist who is fluent in French, Marla’s dynamic curriculum creatively engages students through music, enabling them to gain an appreciation for music theory, musical history, world music, rhythm, singing, and the performing arts.

Strawberry First-Year & Advanced Band Programs with Sara Williams: Strawberry’s band programs are led by professional musician, Sara Williams, who is also the Band Director at Slater Middle School. These programs teach students to read music and play their instrument independently and with fellow musicians in both concert performances and as a marching band in the Rose Parade. Band and percussion programs are open to all students. 

Visual Art with Nancy Ray Ricciardi: A noted Sonoma County landscape painter, Nancy has worked for over 30 years as an artist-in-residence in our local public schools and for decades has championed the cause of keeping art alive in our schools. Nancy’s unique program consists of four disciplines: history, criticism, aesthetics, and artistic technique. Her process-based approach centers on the studies of individual artists, their philosophies, techniques, and contributions. Nancy leads art sessions for all grades at both Yulupa and Strawberry Schools. 

Art Docents: BVEF trains parent volunteers to lead art lessons, offering a fun, hands-on way to bring classroom studies to life. Each class enjoys 2-3 art docent lessons utilizing various media including clay, paper, acrylic and watercolor paint, and more, all coordinated with grade level academic studies.