Oct 20, 2015
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Fifty selfless teachers who were invited onto the Levi’s Stadium field Monday night kept repeating “Wow” — and not just because they received an exclusive tour of the sparkling new facility.

Prior to the event, the special invitees — several of them educators at West County schools — were led to believe they were attending a DonorsChoose.org grant contest where three teachers would be selected as winners to receive funds for classroom projects.

In a surprise move, however, Chevron executives showed up to announce that all 50 teachers — along with an additional 50 teachers who had been following the event online, one from every state in the U.S. — would receive up to $1,000 apiece to fund their classroom projects through the company’s Fuel Your School program, which funds teacher requests for supplies and materials.

The teachers’ reactions were priceless. Although the grant funds will benefit their students, they cheered as if they’d won a car on the Price is Right. Chevron executives Mike Wirth and Steve Green said that goes to show how important education is to these teachers and how much they need additional tools.

Wirth-Best.10-20“The work you do to inspire and educate children is so important,” said Wirth (pictured above in blue shirt), whose speech struggled against the volume of cheering teachers.

Charles Best (pictured next to Wirth), CEO of DonorsChoose.org, where teachers can make grant requests for school supplies, added, “You pull off heroic plays every day in your classrooms.”

The surprise announcement came with all the fanfare that the 49ers players can expect as they step on the field. The stadium’s Jumbotron recognized them, the 49ers Drumline performed and confetti canons ignited.

One teacher said she received an email that her grant request was accepted just seconds before the Chevron execs made the announcement at Levi’s Stadium.

“Oh my God, this is unbelievable,” said an elated Elizabeth Bundschu-Mooney, special ed teacher at EM Downer Elementary in San Pablo.

Bundschu-Mooney (pictured below wearing glasses and a blue shirt) said she will use the grant funds to purchase a computer that will help teach her children the basics of coding, animation and other technical disciplines. Her colleague Karen Ward (pictured below in the red shirt), who teaches special ed at Ford Elementary in Richmond, said her grant will buy Lego robots that students will design and program.

westcountyteachers.10-20“From the time my students come to my classroom until the time they leave after three years, it’s an incredible experience to watch how much they have learned and grown,” Bundschu-Mooney said. “I’m a teacher. I want what’s best for them, always.”

Chevron’s Fuel Your School, which has run annually during the month of October since 2010, donates $1 every time a driver pumps at least 8 gallons of gas into their vehicle at Chevron and Texaco stations. Up to $1 million of those donations go to fund teacher requests on DonorsChoose.org.

The idea is to relieve some of the burden on hard-working teachers who on average spend $485 of their own money for supplies and materials.

Along with the news that their grant requests will be funded, the teachers were taken on a tour of Levi’s Stadium’s slick museum, as pictured below.

museum.10-20They also toured a Chevron-funded STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) classroom at the stadium that is set up to host school field trips. See the picture below. The classroom is equipped with desk-top screens and is partly meant to teach kids STEM subjects as it relates to athletics. Chevron is also the STEM sponsor of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.





About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.