Board members of the IPS Education Foundation have many different reasons for supporting IPS students and teachers. For Elana Thompson, the reasons are more personal.
The Alabama native comes from a family of educators, and she knows the importance and benefits of public school. Thompson also knows the passion that teachers bring to their classrooms and the hours of their own time that are spent planning and working on their classrooms outside of school.
“I like that the Foundation helps teachers gets supplies for classrooms,” she says. “I remember my mother using her own money to get supplies for her classroom.”
Today, Thompson is Corporate Relations Officer at The Starfish Initiative, a college access and readiness program serving economically disadvantaged high school students in Marion County. Many IPS students are served by The Starfish Initiative, so Thompson has a front row seat to see how IPS students succeed and the tools their schools may need to help more students be successful.
“I’m really able to see and understand the students and the additional support that they need to get on an even playing field,” she says.
“DonorsChoose is huge just because teachers spend so much money out of pocket doing things for classrooms,” she says. “The Hall of Fame program is a good way to support students, too. Too often we hear about negative things in IPS, but there is so much positive there to share, and it’s great for the community to support it and come together to recognize it.”
Thompson encourages the community to get involved with IPS schools and get to know the stories of the schools and their students. She gets to see the great work that happens there regularly, but many people don’t get to see it.
“Too often people say, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ We don’t get there by pushing it off on someone else. It’s ordinary people getting involved and helping out in any way that they can,” Thompson says. “We all must come together for the future of our city and the future of our state.”
Elana Kornegay Thompson is the Corporate Relations Officer for Starfish Initiative. Her expertise is in public address, diversity initiatives, team communications, sales, and leadership training. She received her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communications and her Masters of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Administration from Murray State University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Indiana State University. She has been a facilitator at professional development workshops on a local and national level. She is a featured writer in the 2010 published text The Presentation Guidebook: From the Classroom to the Boardroom.