Marin's Investment in education pays off

Marin Independent Journal – March 28, 2006

Marin's investment in education pays off

by Michael Dibley

I CAN'T SAY that I'm the first in my family to graduate from college. That honor belongs to my father, who in his late 30s, while supporting a family of four, demonstrated the grit and determination to earn a degree in accounting. I can, however, lay claim to being the second college graduate in my family and the first to become a teacher – an achievement made possible by Marin Education Fund and the generosity of donors in this community who believe that everyone should have a chance at college.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Marin Education Fund, and I believe it is a fitting time to say thank you for what an individual scholarship did for me. And, at the same time, to thank them for what more than 26,000 scholarships have done to make us one of the most affluent and best-educated communities in America. For me personally, the scholarship I received 20 years ago has enabled me to lead a better life and give back to my community as a teacher in the Marin County schools.

In my early 20s, I made a decision that I wanted to become a physical education instructor and help young people learn the habits and activities that would enable them to lead active healthy lives. Yet, at the time, I was living paycheck to paycheck. I was recently married, and though I worked two jobs, I was having trouble making ends meet. The cost of college tuition was more than I could afford. I simply would not have been able to go to school if not for the gift given to me by people who donated through Marin Education Fund.

With their gift, I was able to enroll in a program at San Francisco State University that allowed me the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a teacher in Marin.

Thanks to that generosity Marin Education Fund, I have spent 21 years coaching at Redwood High School and teaching at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the county.

I have helped your kids achieve success in class and on the basketball court. I have mentored your sons and daughters and helped them on the path to becoming the next generation of Marin County leaders and citizens.

I have even seen some of them receive the same help I received from Marin Education Fund.

The greatest gift you can give is the gift of education. It is a gift that was given to me through Marin Education Fund and a gift I have been honored to "pay forward" by being a teacher in this community.

I am Marin born and raised, a native of Fairfax and a graduate of Sir Francis Drake High. I am evidence that investment in Marin students' education pays massive dividends.

Yet, despite our county's affluence and strong civic values, socioeconomic status and ethnicity still limit students' access to higher education.

Today, there are more than 1,900 students in Marin who lack the resources to get to college, and Marin Education Fund can help only a portion of them. The challenge for all of us is to make sure that everyone in Marin has a chance at college.

Whether it's through monetary donations, mentoring a student or volunteering, we have a responsibility to share and help one another. Education is perhaps the most effective way to make a difference in a way that has the greatest impact – on individuals and their families and on the community at a whole.

As Marin Education Fund marks its 25th year, please join with me in making a contribution to guarantee that it will benefit our community for 25 years more.

Please give to Marin Education Fund today and celebrate with me at the 25th anniversary on May 4.

Michael Dibley is a coach and teacher at Redwood High School. For more information, visit www.MarinEducationFund.org or call 459-4240.