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Sierra Foothill Charter School

Dear Friends,

What a busy month it's been for SFCS! 

First of all, again, we thank the Mariposa County Unified School District Board of Trustees for their vote of provisional approval. What this means is in the next several months we must provide all the necessary proof that SFCS will be successful.

One thing we know for certain is with the kind of support we've been shown, we can't fail.

Our inaugural fundraiser at Savoury's was a HUGE success--thanks to the efforts of co-chairs Ruth Smiley and Kori Smith, shown in photo flanking Savoury's owner and sublime host, Mirriam Wackerman. Thanks to our generous patrons, we were able to net just over $7,000. Every cent will be needed in these next couple of months as we begin the hands-on work of setting up our school.

We were honored to have former Congressman George Radonovich in attendence (shown here with SFCS Board Member Brett Baumann).

Mariposa's own Teenie Matlock was our guest speaker. She addressed the importance of the support she recieved from framily and community in her quest for education. She is a Founding Faculty and Associate Professor - Cognitive Science Program at U.C. Merced.

Our silent auction included wonderful and unique gifts ranging from a circular saw (donated by True Value Hardware) to a handmade quilt--complete with the ribbon it won at the Mariposa County Fair (donated by Philomene Schultz).

Other donations included:

~ 5 wonderful photos by Michael Frye 

~ a Gift Basket donated by River Rock

~ a Spa Package, including a Holistic Facial, donated by Brieann Powell of "The Wellness Nook"

~ 1-night stay at Rancho Bernardo Bed & Breakfast in Catheys Valley

~ a Wine Basket donated by Amber Edwards

~ 2 pair of handmade feather earrings by Kelly Salonen

~ a Partylyte Candle Basket donated by Donna Harveston

~ a Personalized Steel Cutting donated by Paul Salonen

~ a one-month unlimited pass to Dragonfly Yoga Studio

~ a gift certificate for Wiegle Jewelry

~ one month dance lessons (one lesson/week) at Butterfly Ballet Dance Studio

~ a haircut from Simplicity Salon

~ a spray tan from Simplicity Salon

But the real excitement came when auctioneer Stephanie Evans took the mike and started the opening bids for our first ever Live Auction. Stephanie is shown here giving a shout of surprise when Victoria Imrie of Yosemite Ziplines doubled her donated prize!!!

Bidding was fast and furious for these four knock-your-socks-off donations: 

#1:  8-adult passes for the thrilling Yosemite Ziplines donated by Victoria and Bryan Imrie. (a $520-value)

#2: Tree Trimming donated by Todd Turgeon (a $500-value)

#3:  a 2-night stay at the ultimate party house "Yosemite Oaks Vacation Rental" donated by Mike and Mary Bass (a $500-value)

#4:  and the Grand Prize: a 3-Night Stay at the Swall Institute donated by Eric Berlow. (Check out his TED talk.)

The Swall Institute is a residential work/play restreat designed to foster creative work in an inspirational setting, located between Mammoth and Bishop. The sustainably designed space is intimate in scale with stunning views of 14,000 ft peaks and the deepest valley in North America. This uniquely designed 3-bedroom home would be the perfect getaway for a family or two couples. (a $900-value includes cleaning deposit)

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but our steps are a little bit lighter knowing we have your support.

Jill Harry
Board Chair

Meet Our Board

Jill Harry, Board Chair, President, has a BA in English from the University of Michigan. She has served in a variety of managerial positions in publishing companies. Her experience as Co-Founder, President, Secretary, and Administrator for Catheys Valley Preschool, as well as her years of volunteering in District schools and organizations throughout Mariposa County have been especially valuable. Jill and husband Jon Harry have three sons, a variety of small animals at home, including goats and chickens, and an attractive assortment of cattle -- some just visiting -- on their Gaudalope ranch.

Denisha Dawson is Professor of Chemistry at Merced College and graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from UC Berkeley. Denisha has 15 years experience as a community college instructor, as well as one year as a K-12 substitute teacher, and brings expertise in curriculum development and assessment. She and husband Greg live in Catheys Valleys with their two sons and a whole lot of chickens.

Carolin Frank, Vice Chair is Assistant Professor at UC Merced and graduated with a PhD in Biology from Uppsala University, Sweden. Carolin directs research and instructs classes. She brings to the Board her years of experience in grant writing, project management, curriculum development and accreditation. She and husband Dave Ardell relocated to Catheys Valley two years ago when they bought and remodeled a home in Catheys Valley. They have one son in Kindergarten and a new baby coming this spring. Carolin grew up in rural Sweden and had horses.

Brett Baumann is President of Cathey's Valley Real Estate, Inc. and owner/broker of two real estate offices in Mariposa County. Brett's ties to the local community run deep given his father helped develop Whispering Oaks and Whispering Oaks West. He shares his enthusiasm for sports, coaching Little League, as well as his leadership ability and business acumen. He and wife Wendy have four children with one son in elementary school.

John Elliott, CFO of SFCS, is Director of Energy and Sustainability at UC Merced and holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and a MA in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley. John shares his expertise in budget management and sustainable operations. He and wife Lara Kueppers have two sons and live in the Yaqui Gulch area.



SFCS needs your energy, talent and enthusiasm!

How can you help?

We need volunteers in the following areas: 

  • School Nutrition Program 

  • Transportation Program 

  • After School Program 

  • Fundraising 

  • Development 

  • Public relations 

  • Organizing events 

  • Child care 

  • Office work 

Get involved and reap the rewards.

Go to to let us know how you would like to become involved.

Curriculum Matters

Do you have questions about SFCS's educational philosophy and teaching plan? Stop by Cathey's Valley Real Estate, 2660 Hwy 140, Ste. A, and pick up one of our new brochures. It's for anyone who wants to know what Sierra Foothill Charter School is all about -- especially parents of potential students. We also addressed some of the frequently asked questions on our website. For example:

FAQ: if Charter schools are public schools, free and open to all California residents, how come you're raising money and asking for donations? 

A: While SFCS will receive public money just like any other public school, we will not receive state funds until well into the first school year. We have secured access to loans for this start-up phase, but would rather spend funds on teacher salaries than loan interest. We are working to to secure donations to support initial school start up and an excellent educational program. Specifically, we are raising money to: 

• Hire a principal early to get off to a strong start 

• Offer principal and teachers better salaries in order to recruit excellent staff

• Offer a healthy lunch to all students 

• Fund a transportation program to get kids to school 

• Consult with experts in charter school development 

• Buy technology for classrooms 

• Create an endowed teacher position 

• Improve and extend the learning garden already in place at the school site 

FAQ: How will Sierra Foothill Charter be different from the school that was in Catheys Valley?

A: The short answer: it's not what we teach, but how we teach it.

Charter schools are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to traditional public schools. In addition, charter schools have more freedom to direct resources where students need them most. This flexibility allows charters to be more innovative with great results! Charter schools are subject to meeting all state standards, and charter school students take state-mandated exams. 

FAQ: Will Sierra Foothill Charter School hire credentialed teachers? My child is getting really good grades this year and I'm afraid they woud drop if we switched to a charter school.

A: All teachers in charter schools are required to hold a teaching credential or equivalent document
issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing -- these are the same requirements as teachers in other public schools. Recent research shows that teacher quality impacts all areas of students' lives, from academics to future earnings and quality of life. Hiring and supporting excellent teachers is a high priority for Sierra Foothill Charter School.

Please help us spread the word.



Donate to SFCS!

Donations count!

Make a difference  one that pays off in countless ways for our community, our children and grandchildren, and for our society. If we hope to maintain or improve the quality of life in our community, attract new families to this area and prosper as a region, excellent schools are essential. 

Your contribution will be recognized. We plan to publish the names of SFCS donors in our annual reports. Also, we are considering various options that will allow us the means to showcase donor plaques at the school and offer recognition packages that facts about what the money has allowed us to do. 


 Friend ($1 - $149) 

 Supporter ($150 - $249) 

 Patron ($250 - $499) 

 Advocate ($500 - $999) 

 Sustainer ($1000 - $2499) 

 Promoter ($2500 - $4999) 

 Champion ($5000 - $9999)

SFCS has set up an online fundraising campaign that allows you to donate by credit card or electronic check. (http:// If you prefer to mail your donation to SFCS, please make checks out to Sierra Foothill Charter School (SFCS) and mail them to SFCS, PO Box 36, Catheys Valley, CA 95306. 

Our 501c3 status is pending with the IRS. All donations are tax-deductible! 

Please contact or for our financial statement and curriculum. 

Copyright © 2012 Sierra Foothill Charter School, All rights reserved.
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