The Portsmouth Schools Foundation was formed by Mr. R. Franklin Hawkins, the school board chairman, Dr. Rondle E. Edwards, the superintendent, and a group of concerned community leaders and business people on December 17, 1986. The Foundation’s purpose was to actively promote excellence in Portsmouth’s public schools and to create opportunities and resources for others to do the same.
Mrs. Helen Hampton Jones was selected as the first president and Mr. A. C. Hinton, Jr. was made acting executive director. The first annual meeting for the Foundation was held on May 18, 1987.
In May of 1989, Mrs. Kathy Kitterman took over as executive director of the Foundation. A mission statement and goals were formulated under the direction of Mrs. Kitterman. Mr. Robert Ossman was elected president of the Foundation, and served from 1989 until 1992.
In 1989 the Tidewater Scholarship Foundation approached the Portsmouth Schools Foundation concerning the ACCESS* program expanding into Portsmouth. In January of 1990, several business leaders met with Mr. Josh Darden and agreed to assist the Portsmouth Schools Foundation in the fund-raising effort to enter the ACCESS program. At the annual meeting in May of 1990, it was announced that the ACCESS program would be made possible through grants from the Beazley Foundation, the Portsmouth General Hospital Trust, Maryview Hospital, Commerce Bank, Homestead Bank, and Signet Bank. The first students from Portsmouth were admitted to the ACCESS program in September of 1990.
The Foundation was incorporated in the state of Virginia and received a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service in the spring of 1990. A mini-grant program was initiated during the 1990 school term.
In December of 1991, Mrs. Betsy Teuton was hired as executive director. Mrs. Isabel Brenner succeeded Robert Ossman as president in 1992. During the years from 1992-1994, the Foundation adopted long range goals and continued to support its existing program priorities, the ACCESS program and the mini-grant program, as well as developing a collaborative Parents as Teachers model and implementing the IMPACT II program, a national teacher networking program. In addition, the Foundation worked with the Chamber of Commerce by participating on the Education Committee and by sponsoring a recognition ceremony and developing and hosting an orientation program for all business and school partners.
In another collaborative effort, the Foundation worked with the Vocational Education Council and the Virginia Employment Commission to hold a career fair for all Portsmouth 8th graders. Approximately 1600 students were invited and bused in for a day-long event in April of 1993.
In 1994, Mr. Junius Williams assumed the presidency of the organization and Mrs. Eileen Eidam was hired as the executive director. That year three groups of applicants were awarded grants to either initiate or disseminate innovative ideas in the school system. The Portsmouth Schools Foundation participated in the presentation to the judges of the Senate Productivity Award in 1994 and 1995. This award was conferred on the Portsmouth City Public Schools in 1995.
In 1997, Mr. Daniel Plante was elected president. It was decided that the Foundation should have two annual fundraising events to raise money to support the Innovator Grant and ACCESS programs. In the spring of 1998, the 1st Annual Auction was held at the Ambassador Club in Portsmouth. In the fall of 1998, the Foundation held its 1st Annual Celebrity Roast, roasting the Honorable Mayor Holley.
In November of 1998, Mrs. Maureen Mizelle assumed the duties of executive director. Mrs. Mizelle brought with her many years of experience working as a volunteer in the school system, as well as having served several years as a board member of the Foundation. In May of 1999, Mr. Herbert A. Haneman, Jr. was elected president. In May of 2001, Mr. Charles B. Whitehurst, Sr. was elected president. Mr. Whitehurst’s vision for the Foundation was to develop an endowment fund to sustain the programs for the future.
In May of 2003, Mr. Daniel R. Evans was elected president. During Mr. Evans’ tenure as president the Foundation broadened its involvement in the business community through involvement in the Chamber of Commerce and membership in several coalitions and consortiums in the community. New programs aimed at retaining quality teachers were developed such as TAPS and Pencils to PCs. These programs helped address some of the needs of the classroom teachers while forging new partnerships between the schools and the business community.
In 2005, Mr. David C. Holley was elected president. Under his able leadership the vision of the Portsmouth Schools Foundation is to be a catalyst to improve the Portsmouth Public Schools so that it becomes the system of choice for all Portsmouth parents and students. The Foundation enjoys impressive volunteer leadership and participation by its Board of Directors. Our challenge for the immediate future continues to be to provide funding for the programs and activities that promote excellence in the Portsmouth Public Schools.