Talking with Lynda and Blaine Fetter about why they support The Huntington’s education programs, one of the first words that you hear is “impact.”
“We made a conscious decision several years ago to focus our giving where we could have an impact,” says Blaine Fetter, a Huntington Overseer since 2009. The couple honed their priorities to concentrate on local causes that help children: The Boys & Girls Club of the Foothills, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and The Huntington.
When Catherine Allgor, the Nadine and Robert A. Skotheim Director of Education, asked the Fetters about supporting a master educator with public school expertise, the Fetters knew immediately that the position would have enormous impact on The Huntington’s commitment to school programs. “We want to help The Huntington reach as many students as possible,” said Blaine. “Adding an educator with public school expertise was akin to dropping a pebble in a pond. The ripple effect goes all the way to the edge.”
Lynda and Blaine stepped forward at a pivotal moment. “Strengthening our programs for kindergarten through grade 12 is a priority in the 2015-20 strategic plan, and it’s very much in line with President Laura Trombley’s vision to bolster our educational outreach,” explained Allgor. “Our goal is for every visiting student to engage with original material in our collections and reinforce the skills they are learning in the classroom.”
Thanks to the Fetters’ generous two-year commitment, educator Raul Almada joined the Huntington staff in February. He is already a familiar presence on the grounds, where he is frequently spotted with a group of students in tow. In addition to his 18 years in the Whittier City School District as a classroom teacher and instructional specialist, Almada trained at the Library of Congress and is a mentor in its Teaching with Primary Sources program. His chief responsibility at The Huntington is to assess and evaluate every school program. Assessment is key. “We want to know that our school programs really do make a difference for the students and the teachers,” said Allgor.
The Fetters speak movingly about the excellence of The Huntington’s library, art, and botanical collections. Said Blaine, “The challenge is making the collections come alive for students in a way that inspires them to assess all their options.” The Fetters are convinced that the public school educator will go a long way toward achieving that goal, ensuring that their support—and The Huntington’s school programs—will have the maximum impact.