Businessman gives over $1M to schools

October 8, 2009 7:26:28 PM PDT
There was a big thank you given to a businessman who has given a San Francisco elementary school more than a million dollars over the past dozen years. It's a gift that really shows in the classroom.

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Room "A" at E.R. Taylor Elementary School is the heart a program that brings together social workers, counselors, nurses, to improve the lives of students. They work with the children and their parents.

"When you have all of these services and a team that works together, it just provides services in ways that you wouldn't even expect," says school principal Virginia Dold.

"I work with them on social, emotional needs, housing, tutoring. I provide individual and group therapy to our students," says school social worker Brigitte Knight.

"Some of our kids live in some pretty challenging areas or have issues going on at home, so when they come in sometimes they're having a hard time, so they'll come into my office," says school social worker Lori Swihart.

The concept started with the Head Start program in 1992, but when that shut down, the state said "You find a way to keep it going," without money. Enter a guardian angel -- businessman Kevin Shanahan.

"When we really signed on it needed to be long term because one year of money won't do it. It takes? we're, really be able to build on success," says Shanahan.

That was 12 years ago. So far Shanahan has given the school $1.2 million. The effect has been remarkable. Test scores are up. The state has named the school a shining star and has just been named a national blue ribbon school.

Finally with a place to deal with issues the pressure is off the teachers so they can do what they do best. That's teaching.

Shanahan says it has been a difficult year in business, but his commitment to education is unwavering.

"We have to figure out how to get the money here so they didn't see a drop this year at all," says Shanahan. He's actually given them more. "If we can make a difference in one child's life, it's worth it."

The children say thank you.

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