Around the Island

Shelter Island Educational Foundation: New face, same goals

COURTESY PHOTO | Christine Gallagher, former president of the Shelter Island Educational Foundation, with the organization’s new president, JoAnn Kirkland.
COURTESY PHOTO | Christine Gallagher, former president of the Shelter Island Educational Foundation, with the organization’s new president, JoAnn Kirkland.

Reprinted from ‘The Inlet’


The schooner trip, “The Nutcracker,” the opera trip, Broadway shows, trips abroad and to the Grand Canyon, running camps and other individual student enrichment opportunities — Do you know what all of these incredible experiences have in common?

They were paid for in part or in full by generous support from the Shelter Island Educational Foundation (SIEF). 

The foundation makes trips like these possible every year for the student body at Shelter Island School, providing not just experiences but memories that we will carry with us long after graduation.

So, who coordinates SIEF and makes all of this happen for us? Until recently it was Christine Gallagher at the helm, but last month JoAnn Kirkland took over the role of SIEF president.

Ms. Gallagher served on the board of SIEF for seven years and was its president for three years.

“I am proud to say that we are financially sound and we are able to continue to provide grants and programs that directly impact students,” said Ms. Gallagher.

SIEF relies on donations, and Ms. Gallagher hopes that people will remember to support the foundation as much as they can. Some of her favorite moments with the SIEF were during the grant award celebrations. This year, Ms. Gallagher recounts, listening to students reflect on their transcendent experiences at the Grand Canyon left her “speechless.”

Working on SIEF is a lot of work and Ms. Gallagher says, “Lynne Colligan (former president) and I have joked, it is like having another child,” but for Ms. Gallagher, she says it was all worth it to give students opportunities.

So, why is Ms. Gallagher stepping down? Because she thinks a new president will “bring fresh energy to the foundation.” She doesn’t plan to leave SIEF behind however, and will be working with Ms. Kirkland during her transition year. Ms. Gallagher added that she would love to “sit on the grants committee” after her daughters have graduated. As a last bit of guidance, Ms. Gallagher reminds students that, “we [the SIEF] are here to support opportunity, but the onus is on the students, teachers and staff to take their ideas, dreams and do the research to find programs and adventures and submit!”

Ms. Kirkland is up next as president of SIEF. Formerly employed at the Shelter Island Reporter, Ms. Kirkland is now a freelance writer and editor. Others may know her as mom to Quinn Hundgen, who graduated from the Shelter Island School in 2014.

Ms. Kirkland says that part of what inspired her to take the helm at the SIEF is her own memory of how Quinn had such “an amazing experience being at sea, working on the decks, being with his classmates and learning how to sail” during the SIEF-funded schooner trip.

Yet Ms. Kirkland said she was still “astonished” to be asked to be president, even though Ms. Gallagher assured her she was “presidential material.”

Ms. Kirkland has many goals for her SIEF presidency.

“I’d like to increase fundraising,” she said, “by finding new sources of revenue and apply for new grants, increase exposure [of SIEF] in the community” and get more kids to apply for grants. Ms. Kirkland has noticed in the past that “certain students apply every year,” but she says, “we want more of you to apply!” Adding, “even just learning the process of applying for a grant is teaching you a life skill.”

Ms. Kirkland understands that there will be challenges that come with the new position, including learning the history of the foundation, paperwork, budgeting and scheduling, but with the support of Ms. Gallagher and Ms. Lange with the newsletter, Ms. Kirkland anticipates a successful year.

“I think the most fun part of being president is looking ahead to next November, when I sit in the audience at the grants celebration,” she said. “I’ll know that I helped to make it happen.”

The foundation aims to help students to gain experiences beyond the classroom walls.

As Ms. Kirkland put it, “There’s a huge world outside of this Island. Go discover it. We can help.”


Spring Grants available from SIEF

The Shelter Island Educational Foundation (SIEF) accepts grant requests twice a year from students, teachers and programs that inspire participants and enrich their futures. Projects must provide, or make possible, educational experiences beyond those available in the normal school curriculum and budget.

Applications for spring 2017 grants will be available on Monday, March 6 at, at the Shelter Island School or library. It is preferable to fill out the application online and download for signatures.

Completed grant application forms must be postmarked by Monday, April 3 and mailed to SIEF Grants Committee, PO Box 1950, Shelter Island, NY 11964.