At the Jan. 9 Crook County School Board meeting, a local resident, who is also an active member of Prineville Kiwanis International, was recognized by the board and Superintendent Sara Johnson.
Wayne Looney has been a part of the Prineville community and a member of Kiwanis for a number of years, after retiring from the Pendleton School District. He was an educator and coach during his tenure at Pendleton.
In a recent post on their website from the Crook County School District, the board expressed their appreciation for Looney’s contributions to the youth of the CCSD.
“The Crook County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Wayne Looney of the Kiwanis Club of Prineville,” the post read. “Wayne has been such an incredible advocate of our schools, helping to raise money and organize summer reading and summer school programs. He's served on our Long-Term Facilities Planning Committee and his efforts have stretched beyond our schools to improvements in parks and the addition of the splash pad behind City Hall.”
The post went on to say, “Wayne is just an all-around gentleman and charitable human and is always thinking of ways to better the community and its children. Wayne used to teach and coach high school football in Pendleton, so it's no surprise he's extended his service to youth well into retirement.
“We appreciate all you've done for Crook County schools. We wish you the best as you relocate to spend more time with your grandchildren!”
Looney is moving to Salem to be closer to his family. He reflected on some of the projects that he and his team at Kiwanis were involved in, which made a big difference in the youth at CCSD and the community.
“It was a surprise,” he exclaimed of the plaque presentation from the school board and Johnson. “I am honored that they would consider doing this, and we have done a lot of work with them as a representative of Kiwanis, and I am proud of that and really happy to be recognized for it. I enjoy that. I have a lot of respect for the school district and their leadership team right now, so to be recognized by them is nice.”
For eight years, Looney spearheaded a project through his Prineville Kiwanis team to originate a summer school program for K-5 students who were underperforming in reading and math.
“In collaboration with the school district, the collaboration involved the two of us funding the process,” Looney added. “There were eight years of that operation, which was always good and always really successful. It was fun to work with the school district on that one for sure — never a hitch. We always had good representatives from the school district, and everything was clear-cut and very professional and good teachers.”
Over the eight years, Looney was always the face between the school district and Prineville Kiwanis and would take the needs for funding to the Kiwanis board, which saw this project as a priority funding for the local club.
“They realized its value and we are very excited about continuing to do it,” Looney added.
After eight years, the school district adopted the entire summer program, and the Prineville Kiwanis found themselves searching for another project to utilize the funds raised for the community that would bring value to the youth in the community.
“Especially since our lane has always been our youth and the children, so we found that probably one of the most important things we could do would be impact afterschool daycare.”
Looney and his team at Kiwanis worked with Ashley Thrasher at the Kids Club after-school program and were able to assist with funding to eliminate any waiting list and keep the price point for parents at $50 per month per child. They also applied scholarship money for any parents who needed help, so they could have good quality after-school daycare.
“That infusion of funds erased the waiting list, and there is no waiting list as we speak, and we are prepared and have helped maintain that and the price point has remained the same. It really has been a great program and everybody I think recognizes the importance of quality daycare,” said Looney.
In addition, the school district and Kiwanis initiated a tutorial program with the Kids Club called Power Hour. Students in grades 1-5 routinely get evaluated through the school district to ensure they are on schedule in their skill sets for reading and math. When a student is found to be getting into the red zone, the school sets up a plan with parents and students to get them back on track.
“What we wanted to do with the power hour was to offer a tutoring situation for those kids after school as they stayed at the school site in after school daycare.”
With scholarship money available for students not already in the after-school daycare, the Kiwanis financed a point person in the building who collects lesson plans for each student in the program. They have 45 to 60 minutes of professionally prepared tutoring in their needed skillset in the after-school program.
“It’s a tutoring situation offered on site seamlessly with the school day, with professional people who are trained to do this, and right when the need becomes apparent, so that there is not a lag in addressing the program,” noted Looney.
The Power Hour was rolled out in October, and there are currently 45 students involved in the program. Thrasher oversees the program, and it is currently only at Steins Pillar Elementary. Sarah Klann is the person who collects and transfers lessons plans to the tutors for the after-school program. Kiwanis has also been instrumental in funding extra staff to make the program possible.
“It has all the elements that are right,” indicated Looney.
He concluded that he and his family are moving in the early to mid-spring to the valley.