After supporting the Irving Schools Foundation for a long time, Mary Sue Daniel decided to join the Board of Directors 8 years ago. Today, she serves at the Chair of Programs and is honored to witness the creativity and passion of the students and teachers of Irving ISD through their participation in the Spark Tank Grant Program.
Keep reading to learn more about Mary Sue’s journey with the Irving Schools Foundation.
Each month, the foundation hosts a monthly Spark Tank session for Irving ISD students and teachers to present their upcoming projects for grants. Inspired by the show Shark Tank, the Programs Committee, led by Mary Sue, listens and observes these presentations to choose grant recipients.
Among Mary Sue’s favorite memories lies one presentation where a teacher hoped to receive a grant to assist her sight impaired students with garnering independence. Mary Sue describes that this teacher had personally been paying out of pocket to show her students around the city by taking them on field trips, teaching them how to use public transportation, attend events, and eat in restaurants among other things. “The love and care she showed to her students and parents, resulted in a parent with vision loss becoming confident enough to complete their GED education, attend college and graduate. The heart of this teacher was amazing.”
As Mary Sue witnesses these presentations front row, she continues to be a great believer in the power of education. She says, “Our future leaders are born out of the educational environment in which they learn, along with the support of their families and educators. When I’m able to have a positive impact on a student or teacher, I pray they are blessed as much as I am.“ Mary Sue’s love for learning and supporting students and educators has become part of her identity as she is a parent/mother in law to both a high school and elementary school educator.
Mary Sue describes that her involvement at the board level truly began when Crystal Scanio began her journey as President & CEO of the foundation. “Crystal was excited about all that could be accomplished under her direction and with the board’s leadership.”
Another presentation that touched Mary Sue’s heart was when a special education teacher presented her idea to add various stimuli to her classroom to assist students with engagement. To better their limited mobility and interactions with her as a teacher, this educator hoped to receive a grant to benefit her students’ environment in the classroom with special lighting, floor pads of different textures, and a large flat swing that could accommodate her wheelchair bound students.
With that in mind, Mary Sue is most excited for in-person grant presentations for the upcoming school year. After a year of Spark Tank presentations via Zoom, she and her team are excited to meet all the teachers and students face to face once again.
She says, “We believe in the students and teachers of Irving ISD and all that can be accomplished in their educational development. Get your creative juices flowing and come present your big idea to us!”
As students come back to school, Mary Sue reminds them that learning can come in many forms and resources are available for that. “Take every opportunity to learn and grow, even when it’s hard. People can be one of your greatest assets and finding a mentor will serve you well on your journey to greatness. Believe in yourself, garner and cultivate a positive self-image and shoot for the stars. You can do it!”