Freudenberg donates unprecedented amount to partner Kirk ES

May 16, 2016

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Representatives from Freudenberg/EagleBurgmann present a $250,000 check to CFISD and Kirk Elementary School during the May 16 Board of Trustees meeting at the Berry Center. Pictured (L-R) are Lynda Zelenka, executive director of Cy-Hope; Aaron Johnson, managing director of EagleBurgmann USA; Stephanie Wade, EagleBurgmann USA health, safety and environment manager; Donna Butler, EagleBurgmann USA sales business manager; and Onica Mayers, Kirk principal.

May 16, 2016—EagleBurgmann, a subsidiary of Freudenberg, the Adopt-a-School partner of Kirk Elementary School, announced during the CFISD Board of Trustees meeting on May 16 its intent to donate $250,000 to the school.

The donation—which marks the single-largest total ever given to a CFISD campus—will fund a four-year blended learning initiative at the partner school.

“It’s incredible just to think about the possibilities that are in store for the students involved,” said Onica Mayers, Kirk principal. “As a parent myself, I would absolutely want my children in a setting like that. It is amazing to have a business partner like EagleBurgmann that understands our needs. We are ecstatic.”

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CFISD and Freudenberg/EagleBurgmann employees celebrate the company’s $250,000 donation to Kirk Elementary School, its Adopt-a-School partner that was connected through nonprofit Cy-Hope. Pictured (L-R) are Donna Butler, EagleBurgmann USA sales business manager; Stephanie Wade, EagleBurgmann health, safety and environment manager; Aaron Johnson, EagleBurgmann USA managing director; Onica Mayers, Kirk principal; Leslie Francis, director of marketing and business relations; and Lynda Zelenka, Cy-Hope executive director.

EagleBurgmann, which adopted Kirk during the 2014-2015 school year, approached Mayers last fall with the intent of its parent company, Freudenberg, to leave an even larger footprint on the Kirk community.

“One of the stipulations was that they didn’t want to start something new. They wanted to enhance something that was already happening,” Mayers said. “At the time we were knee-deep in becoming a blended learning initiative campus with an emphasis on reading/language arts. With EagleBurgmann’s focus on engineering, it made sense to match that with our math/science content as well.”

Mayers tentatively plans to implement blended learning—teaching the same concept in multiple ways to cater to students’ various learning styles—in four second-grade, four third-grade, two fourth-grade and two fifth-grade classrooms during the first year. Freudenberg pledged $100,000 to Kirk for its first year in the initiative, plus an additional $50,000 for the next three years as more classes continue to be impacted.

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Onica Mayers, Kirk Elementary School principal, thanks EagleBurgmann USA Health, Safety and Environment Manager Stephanie Wade for the company’s long-time support of the CFISD campus. 

The funds will support professional development for teachers, enhanced technology, extra-duty compensation for teachers’ book studies and revamped classroom designs targeting 21st-century learners.

“Not all students learn best in a classroom with traditional furniture,” Mayers said. “Some classes will have mobile desks, bean bag chairs, yoga balls or Zumba rockers instead of traditional furniture. We want to let our teachers explore the blended learning environment and then ask them, ‘How will your kids learn better if your classroom environment changes?’”

EagleBurgmann has been heavily involved at the campus since its 2014 adoption—orchestrated when the company inquired about the school adoption process to local nonprofit Cy-Hope. Cy-Hope introduced EagleBurgmann to Leslie Francis, CFISD director of marketing and business relations, who arranged the partnership with Kirk.

“CFISD is fortunate to have so many of our schools adopted; however, EagleBurgmann exemplifies what a strong business-to-school partnership looks like,” Francis said. “They support the campus with volunteers through the mentoring program and Junior Achievement while also enriching the school with additional financial resources. The leadership at EagleBurgmann is to be commended!”

An estimated 18 EagleBurgmann mentors and 60 volunteers regularly spend time working with students and finding ways to improve the campus environment.

Aaron Johnson, managing director for EagleBurgmann USA, expressed a passion to help its partner campus.

“Kirk has become so much a part of the fabric of our company,” he said. “We started slowly with a few dedicated people and this year we challenged our company to dedicate the first 500 hours of personal time to serving at Kirk. It’s now much closer to 1,000 hours. We are very committed to the cause.”

Mayers said she anticipates the company being involved with the blended learning initiative beyond the financial support.

“One of the things students have struggled with is how to connect math concepts to real-life experiences,” she said. “During the fractions unit, for example, we discussed EagleBurgmann employees making video trailers of themselves using fractions to help them in the workplace so the students could watch them and see the real-life application for engineers. They’re as excited as we are about doing what’s best for kids.”

Mayers said she was grateful not only for the unprecedented donation, but overwhelming support that EagleBurgmann has shown from day one.

“On any given day, you can find a number of EagleBurgmann volunteers helping in the library, labs or simply building relationships with students during lunch or recess,” she said. “I will forever sing their praises for what they have done for our campus culture. They truly support the CFISD theme of Every Student, Every Day.”

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