Inspiring educators highlighted at Fulcrum ‘Celebration of Light’ gala

Frances McKamey teaches band at eight elementary schools each week. Photo: Courtesy Fulcrum Foundation Frances McKamey teaches band at eight elementary schools each week. Photo: Courtesy Fulcrum Foundation

SEATTLE – Frances McKamey teaches band at eight elementary schools every week, logging some 25,000 miles in her car every year.

“Three things motivate me … my love for Catholic faith, I love young students, and I love music,” McKamey said in a video produced for the Fulcrum Foundation’s annual Celebration of Light gala.

“It truly is a celebration,” Conne Bruce, Fulcrum’s advancement director said in a news release. “You always walk away empowered and excited about what’s happening in Catholic education.”

Last year’s gala had to be canceled because of snow, but this year 1,150 people gathered January 24 at the Sheraton Grand Seattle to kick off Catholic Schools Week. More than $2.1 million was raised to support “the life-changing gift of Catholic education.”

The gala is an opportunity to share stories of inspiring educators like McKamey, the band program director who has been teaching for 36 years. She starts band class by asking students to join her in making the sign of the cross.

“We’re in a Catholic school and they need to know that prayer is not just when you need something, that God holds all the believers in his hand,” McKamey explained in the video. “That you offer your day to God because he’s given it to you.”

Students described McKamey as a teacher who strives to make them feel at home in her band room, interspersing one-liners with learning.

“She brings faith into my life,” said Elaine, a student at St. Anthony School in Renton. McKamey is “a wonderful teacher who works really hard to make everyone be a great player and a great person inside as well,” Elaine added.

Connecting with young people who are just discovering their gifts and interests is worth it, McKamey said, “because they’re going to grow into people that know their gifts and know God hopefully through their gifts.”

Fulcrum FoundationPhoto: Courtesy Fulcrum Foundation

Fulcrum kicks off $66 million campaign

Founded in 2002, Fulcrum leverages financial assistance to support and strengthen Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle.

At this year’s gala, Mike and Mary Lee received the Archbishop’s Award, given to an individual, couple, or organization making a significant impact on Catholic education in the archdiocese, Bruce said. 

Mike and Mary, a founding board member, chaired Fulcrum’s first capital campaign, “Embracing Our Legacy,” Bruce said. “The campaign was successful and Fulcrum is thriving because of Mike and Mary Lee’s significant leadership,” she added.

The gala, the first for Vivian Shannon as Fulcrum’s new executive director, included the kick-off for the public phase of a new major fundraising effort, “Uplift: The Fulcrum Campaign for Catholic Education.”

The goal is $66 million to support the three major priorities of Fulcrum’s work: tuition assistance, revitalizing schools through partnerships, and building leadership capacity ­­— finding, training and retaining the best teachers, staff and principals for the archdiocese’s 73 Catholic schools. More than $48 million has already been raised or pledged, Bruce said.

Larkin TemmeLarkin Temme attributes her success as principal at Holy Family School in Seattle to the Fulcrum Foundation’s Leadership Academy. Photo: Courtesy Fulcrum Foundation

Helping new principals thrive

Fulcrum’s Leadership Academy, created four years ago, helps aspiring and new principals like Larkin Temme learn how to be spiritual, academic, managerial and strategic leaders, according to Kelly Surapaneni, Fulcrum’s leadership development coordinator.

Temme, in her third year as principal of Holy Family Bilingual Catholic School in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood, was also featured in a video during the gala.

Parents described the community feeling at Holy Family and how Temme is always available to discuss anything of concern.

“She’s a very dynamic leader,” said Father Jose Alvarez, Holy Family’s pastor. “It is a huge plus that she’s totally bilingual.”

But Temme, who has been teaching Spanish since 2004, had limited leadership experience when she became principal in 2016. Essentially running a small business without the help of a vice principal or a business manager, Temme attributes her success to the Leadership Academy.

“When you get in those moments of ‘I have no clue what to do and who to turn to,’ it’s through the Leadership Academy that I have a list of numbers to call, I have people who are willing to support me,” Temme said. “And I can do it. I’m surprised, but I can do it.

Holy Family School has broad diversity that includes East African families, Hispanic/Latino families and Filipino families, Temme explained in the video. “What we’re doing here is nothing short of amazing,” she said. “Our mission is to create students who accept and embrace differences. We do that through our dual-language program.”

“I believe that this the way that we’re going to make the world a better place,” Temme said. “That really deep belief in what we’re doing here at Holy Family is what motivates me to get up every day and come do it again.”