Community Spotlight: Rockingham Educational Foundation, Inc.

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 10:47 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The belief that a good education is vital to a community’s social and economic health motivated a group of Rockingham County citizens to start an organization in 1994.

The Rockingham Educational Foundation, Inc., also known as ‘REFI’, aims to empower educators and provide inspiring learning opportunities for every student. It’s been going strong for nearly 30 years.

A focal point of REFI is a large building filled with school supplies off of Mount Clinton Pike, behind Rockingham County Public Schools central offices.

“It allows us to kind of take off some of those out-of-pocket expenses or financial burdens teachers feel. ‘I’m out of glue sticks, I’m out of pencils’, or anything like that. So teachers can come to the depot it’s 100% free, they select what they need and they walk out with it it’s like a free shopping experience,” REFI executive director Victoria Landis said.

Funded through the generosity of individuals and businesses, gently-used items are given a new life.

“A lot of times it keeps really good stuff from just ending up going you know to the dump and instead goes in a classrom and gives another purpose,” Landis said.

The teacher supply depot is just one of REFI’s five core programs.

“We also provide educational grants for teachers which encourage them to think outside of the box, some fun different lessons, as well as building upon things they may already be doing in the classroom. We provide the additional funding to support some of those innovative ideas,” Landis said.

Each spring, REFI also recognizes 24 educators from RCPS, who have been selected as Teacher of the Year for their respective schools, and will now have the chance to be selected as the Lucy Simms Educator of the Year.

Landis says this time of year is busy as it marks the review of REFI’s scholarship applications for students at the division’s four high schools.

“Again, financial burdens of college expenses continue to go up, so with our scholarships, we’re able to alleviate some of that for our graduating seniors,” Landis said.

Another program focuses on some of the youngest members of the RCPS system, providing books to all kindergarteners in the county. She says this promotes early literacy, one of the building blocks of education.

For those who want to help REFI and enjoy the game of golf, the foundation’s 28th Annual ‘Chip-In’ for Quality Schools Golf Classic will be held on April 22 at Lakeview Golf Club.

Registration for the tournament and more information about REFI can be found on their website.