Alum gives $250k to boost teacher aid

03/07/2014 4:04 PM

03/07/2014 10:41 PM

A 1973 graduate of Olympic High has pledged $250,000 to kick-start an effort to support teachers at the southwest Charlotte school.

Bruce Dye of Fort Wayne, Ind., has already donated $100,000 to Olympic’s All-Star Teacher Initiative and will give the rest as a matching grant, said executive director Joan O’Brien.

The Olympic plan, which debuted in December, is modeled on a program at East Mecklenburg High. That effort began in 2005, when alum Bob Silver made a $500,000 matching grant. The original plan was to raise $1 million, spend it on East Meck teachers and quit, but the push became so popular that it is still going nine years later.

A handful of Olympic alumni hired O’Brien, who had been East’s executive director, to help them develop an All-Star program. The goal is to provide stipends for classroom supplies, host gatherings to build team spirit, pay for teachers to take classes and workshops and otherwise show support for faculty.

Starting out, the founders weren’t sure they could find a major donor. “We may do it with $5,000 or $10,000 a pop,” said founder Charles Beatty, a 1980 Olympic graduate.

Dye came back for a reunion and heard about the plan, O’Brien said. He is CEO of Hotel Fitness, which sells exercise equipment to the hospitality industry, and past president of Heritage Food Service Group.

The Olympic foundation has already raised about $85,000 from other sources, but Dye’s grant sets the stage for a more ambitious effort. “It’s very exciting to start off a new foundation with something like this,” O’Brien said.

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