Dedication to Education
Education is vital not just for students but for the vibrancy and prosperity of the community as a whole. Rancho Bernardo High School (RBHS) and the 92128 community benefit from two dedicated parent-driven organizations – the RBHS Foundation and the RBHS PTSA. The foundation, currently led by President Mike Jones, began as an athletic foundation at the school’s founding in 1990, and now hosts annual pancake breakfast and pasta dinner events. The PTSA, under the direction of President Michelle Perry, organizes the annual Reflections art program, Shred-A-Thons, and other fundraising opportunities. The foundation and PTSA help fund education technology, classroom equipment, and athletic and art programs. We spoke with each president to learn more about how each organization unites the community in supporting local students.
Q&A with Mike Jones, Rancho Bernardo High School Foundation President
What is the history and inspiration behind the Rancho Bernardo High School Foundation?
We were founded in 1990, when Rancho Bernardo High School first opened its doors. Dedicated parent volunteers formed an athletic foundation to raise money to buy lights for the new football stadium. We are still an all-volunteer dedicated board of parents, alumni, community and business leaders, and education leaders who share a desire to create a world-class high school experience for our students and faculty.
How has the foundation evolved over the years?
Through the years, we have expanded the scope of the foundation’s fundraising to support the entire school. We fund technology, classroom equipment, and facility needs on campus.
What is your mission, and why is it important for schools to have foundations?
Our mission is simple: raise funds to help bridge the gap between state and local budgets and the cost of a well-rounded education and great high school experience that includes essentials like music, arts, and athletics, along with the cores of reading, writing, math, and critical thinking. Along the way, we get the opportunity to bring the community together and create opportunities for our students and our community to work together and make new friends. This is important in today’s world not only for the obvious financial reasons, but also to help foster that strong sense of community that we are known for here in Rancho Bernardo.
How did you get involved with the foundation, and what is your current role?
My wife, Lisa, has been a member since 2011. I became involved with the foundation through my work on the Gridiron Club board, which supports the football team. I joined the foundation in 2015 as president because I believe in what they do and wanted to contribute to the school on a broader scale. We are all volunteers at heart – it’s what we do. It takes a lot of work and a lot of money to have a full offering of athletics and arts programs in public high schools today. We all feel a sense of pride in playing a small part to ensure that our students have a broad selection of campus groups, teams, and activities from which to choose. This contributes to a great high school experience and offers all students an opportunity to find their own community within such a large school.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role with the foundation?
Rewarding: the friendships we’ve made and the great times we have together at fundraising events. Seeing students having a great time and being successful.
Challenging: keeping fundraisers fresh and engaging. As parents, we sometimes can feel like there’s a long line of people asking us for money, especially at the beginning of the school year. I don’t remember it being that way when I was a kid in school, but it’s a fact of life today. Budgets are tight and education is expensive. Our foundation team has to work hard to show the value of those contributions and to create the motivation for parents and community members to contribute.
What is most exciting about being a part of the foundation?
The exciting part for me is the challenge of fundraising. It’s tough finding ways to make people excited to give you money. I think it’s easy for us to take for granted the quality of education in the Poway Unified School District. It has been a very eye-opening experience for me to learn what our teachers and administrators do in order to provide a great education and a great experience for our students. They are amazing people and dedicated almost beyond belief. I’m excited to be around and to work with such incredible people.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the other key players in the foundation?
Without a doubt, Denise Davis and Teri Wyness are two of the most amazing volunteers I know! They are the heart and soul of this foundation. They haven’t had children at this school for years, but still put in hundreds of hours of volunteer time. They are both serial volunteers, lending their time and talents to other organizations outside of the foundation as well, and I thank the good Lord for them at least once a week! Gretchen Christensen, our secretary, and Rob Bernhardt, our VP, are also incredible contributors, working behind the scenes and often out of the spotlight, but always the first to show up and the last to leave an event. Haochi Shi, our webmaster, is an RBHS alumnus who lends his talent and is a long way from having kids at the high school. Other long-tenured general members and hearty volunteers are Tom Roehrig and Johnny Miyasaki. They’re usually the first to raise their hands when help is needed. Honestly, everyone on this foundation is an ‘A’ player, and all are very special people with big hearts and no fear of hard work.
Can you highlight any significant upcoming dates?
Our next fundraising event is our annual pasta dinner in March to support our spring sports teams. We are hoping to anchor it to another major school event to encourage attendance by students, parents, and the community.
Does the foundation hold any fundraisers throughout the year?
We have our donation letter campaign out and active to RBHS parents. The letter campaign is an easy way for parents to make a donation and highlights some great examples of what we have accomplished at school with the contributions from parents and the community in the past year.
We hold two major fundraising events each year. Our annual pancake breakfast and craft fair is held the last Saturday of September. We are the only school in the district to hold an event of this size on our campus. It has been a school and community tradition for 26 years! Our award-winning band and choir as well as our amazing cheer and dance teams perform. The student groups and teams on campus sell tickets to the event for $5, and keep $4 for their group or team. This year, we sold over 3,000 tickets and fed almost 1,500 people! Our other major event is the pasta dinner.
How can the community help contribute to the work that the foundation does?
Time, talent, and treasure! We meet on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the parent center on campus. There are countless opportunities for parents, alumni, and the community to contribute through helping coordinate events and fundraising efforts, working at the events, searching out and applying for grants on behalf of the foundation, and of course through monetary donations! As a registered 501(c)(3) organization, we can also help coordinate employer matching funds for people that work for companies that have a matching funds program.
What are your long-term and short-term goals for the foundation?
They are really one in the same: to continue to find creative and fun ways to raise money for our school and to bring the Bronco community together with the greater Rancho Bernardo community to create a strong family connection for us all.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I just love going to all of the different events and activities at our school. Lisa and I are regulars at sporting events, choir concerts, marching band competitions, and plays. Through my own children (two Bronco graduates and one current senior), I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in about 13 different student groups, athletic teams, and performing arts groups on this campus over the past eight years. High school is so much more fun the second or third time around!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve found through my years of volunteering and being involved in my children’s activities at RBHS that I’ve made some wonderful, lifelong friends and some really fun memories. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know my kids’ friends, coaches, teachers, and administrators on a personal level. I encourage parents to get involved in some way with their school. It’s a wonderful way to expand your own community, and it’s very rewarding in many ways!
At-A-Glance | Foundation President
Name: Mike Jones
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Family: Wife – Lisa (also a foundation member); sons – Ryan (RBHS Class of 2012), Evan (RBHS Class of 2015), and Sean (RBHS Class of 2017)
Hobbies & Interests: Travel, hanging out with my wife of 26 years, watching my kids play sports and music, Bronco Football, and The Royal Regiment (our marching band)
At-A-Glance | Rancho Bernardo High School Foundation
RBHS Foundation Board of Directors
Mike Jones – President
Rob Bernhardt – Vice President
Denise Davis – Treasurer
Gretchen Christensen – Secretary
Teri Wyness – PR/Fundraising
David LeMaster – Principal
Peggy Brose – Athletic Director
Haochi Shi – Webmaster
Ed Muna and Tom Roehrig – Campus Beautification Co-Chairs
Audrey Frank – Craft Fair Chairperson
Lisa Jones – Member
Cindy Studts – Member
Kimberly LaCour – Member
Sherry Watts – Member
Johnny Miyasaki – Member
Kathleen Kennedy – Member
Robert Sanchez – Member
Q&A with Michelle Perry, Rancho Bernardo High School PTSA President
What is the history and inspiration behind the Rancho Bernardo High School PTSA?
The PTSA is the largest volunteer advocacy association working exclusively on behalf of all children. For more than 100 years, it has promoted the education, health, and safety of children, youth, and families (www.capta.org/about/our-mission/whatwestandfor). Rancho Bernardo High School embraced the PTSA’s mission and felt that the PTSA would be an asset to the school community.
How has the PTSA evolved over the years?
The PTSA has evolved to find new ways to address the diverse needs of the student population. We have also had to change the way in which we engage with our students, teachers, and families by using social media platforms, new technology, and basing our outreach efforts on research regarding how to engage our communities effectively.
What is your mission, and why is it important for schools to have PTSAs?
The PTSA’s mission is to positively impact the lives of all children and families. It is important for schools to have a PTSA to provide an additional resource for families, teachers, and students.
How did you get involved with the PTSA, and what is your current role?
I first became involved with the PTSA when a friend of mine, knowing how much I loved the arts, recruited me to assist with the PTSA Reflections program. It was wonderful to see how the program positively impacted students and brought members of the community together. I began learning more about the PTSA’s mission and felt that it aligned with what I believed was important. I began attending PTSA conferences, and meeting passionate members who inspired me to grow and develop myself. The rest, as they say, is history.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role?
The most rewarding thing is seeing the positive impact that our PTSA programs have on the students and the community. Knowing that the PTSA works tirelessly to advocate on behalf of children so that they can have a better future makes me very happy and proud to be a part of the organization. Another thing I love is meeting passionate volunteers who bring new ideas and expertise to the table.
The most challenging thing would have to be dispelling the myth that to be part of the PTSA requires a lot of time. People can support the PTSA in many ways, such as becoming a member, in-kind donations, contributions, helping out at an event, taking on a role as a chair of a program, etc. There is a wide range of commitment levels, and people have the flexibility to decide what way works best for them.
What is most exciting about being a part of the PTSA?
I would have to say that the most exciting thing about PTSA is knowing that our programs are helping to build stronger communities, and that we provide a voice for all children.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the other key players in the organization?
Every member of the PTSA is a key player. Each and every person involved with furthering our mission is an important part of the organization as a whole.
Does the PTSA hold any fundraisers throughout the year?
The PTSA does engage in purposeful fundraisers throughout the year to support our programs. Some of our fundraisers include our Shred-a-Thon/E-Waste event and our year-round Amazon Smile fundraiser.
How can the community help contribute to the work that the PTSA does?
There are many ways for the community to support the PTSA such as becoming a member, in-kind donations, monetary donations, volunteering time, etc.
What are your long-term and short-term goals for the PTSA?
My long-term goal for the PTSA would be to provide sustainable, quality programs and increase interest, involvement, and understanding of our PTSA mission. My short-term goals are to increase our membership and implement our approved programs efficiently and effectively.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
Continuing to find ways to enhance the learning environment for our students, support our teachers/staff, and provide opportunities for family engagement.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Please consider joining the PTSA to support our advocacy efforts.
At-A-Glance | PTSA President
Name: Michelle Perry
Community: Carmel Mountain Ranch
Education: B.A. Psychology, University of California Riverside
Family: Spouse – Christopher Perry; children – Morgan (14) and Ayva (12)
At-A-Glance | Rancho Bernardo High School PTSA
Name: Rancho Bernardo High School PTSA
President: Michelle Perry
RBHS PTSA Executive Board
Michelle Perry – President
Darlene Dunn – Vice President
Michelle Becker – Secretary
Dayse Ekholm – Treasurer
Francoise Pierguin – Auditor
RBHS PTSA Committees
Catherine Hunt, Kayla Hunt – CCRP
Rami Salem – Character Counts
Tamara Pickard – Reflections
Ann Salvati – Membership
Heather Kostyzak – Hospitality
Darlene Dunn – Community Concerns
Michelle Coast and Lindsey Lawson – Marketing
Sangita Doshi – Volunteer Coordinator
Kayla Hunter – Students
Dawn Gamberale – Teacher Rep