For years, a part-time administrator helped lead the Hernando Education Foundation’s efforts to land grant money and solicit donations of dollars, supplies, and time to benefit local schools. The foundation’s board decided last summer that it was time to start searching for a full-time, salaried executive director, and recently tapped Beth Narverud, a Spring Hill mother of three students at Challenger K-8. Born in Brooklyn and raised on the Jersey Shore (the real Jersey Shore, she’s quick to point out, not the one on television), Narverud helps run the family’s two Domino’s Pizza locations. She spoke with reporter Tony Marrero about her new post.
What do you see as the role of the director?
My role is to bring the Hernando Education Foundation to the forefront of the community, to provide organization, planning, and commitment to the education system.
What qualities do you have that will help you do that?
I am very involved in the community. I talk to strangers (laughs). It's something I've always seen my mom do, and my dad. We've always been very outgoing people. I think my business background and training, planning and organizational skills will really help the foundation move forward with process, procedure, and intensity. I'm definitely passionate about what we do, and I'm honored to work with the other board members because they're all awesome people.
What is the biggest challenge facing the school system and how can the foundation help?
Hernando County's a hidden gem of Tampa Bay … and we can boost our economy by improving our education system. We have excellent educators here already, and they're kind of like lost heroes, and the education foundation would like to bring them to a level of recognition for the good things that they do.
What is your message to Hernando's teachers?
I think there are some innovative and remarkable ideas that they have, but they don't feel like they can get their programs going because they don't have the funding. I want them to know the education foundation is here to help them find funding, and not just through our classroom grant program. We will cast the net as big and as wide as needed to fulfill the needs of the programs that they've come up with. I think a lot of them are afraid of the grant process because they've been told, "Oh, grants are so hard, they're so scary," and they're really not. Paint me a picture of what you'd like, tell us why you want to do it, and if that makes sense, we're going to help you find funding. It's as simple as that.
What can the community do to help?
The community can get involved by, of course, donations. Lending us some time, whether it’s coming into a classroom and reading a book, or helping us hand out fliers at an event to promote the mission of the foundation. It’s even coming into a classroom and speaking about what you do in life, teaching children what the real world is going to be, and showing them different avenues and different possibilities that are available to them. We have lots of people who own businesses in the county, we have lots of people who work for businesses in the county. I think there are a lot of options here in Hernando County for our kids but we also want to provide them with options that are beyond anything they have dreamed of, and I think businesses in the community all believe children are worth our investment of time and resources.