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Major League Education

I was recently driving back from the Oregon Coast when I noticed a bumper sticker that absolutely moved me. It read: "If you can read this...thank a teacher." The sticker was a simple reminder of the value of education, yet hinted at our society's general lack of acknowledgement and respect for the institution. Rather than rant and rave, as we at Anvil are prone to do, we're actually going to do something about it: Anvil's First Annual Get SMART Gala, September 13th at Bridgeport Brewery in Portland, Oregon.

Before I go into the details about the event itself, I'm going to provide a little background in the hopes it will inspire you to get involved. As a child, I was a struggling reader and loathed math. Being an only child, I was lucky enough to have a supportive foster sister that spent hours helping me with my multiplication tables and phonics. My parents were also tremendously helpful with homework ... although nobody could help with calculus.

If you follow the news, you know that the Hillsboro School District in Oregon has taken a beating in the media recently. Compare the effort to pass funding measures for schools with the fight to bring major league baseball to Portland, and you get a clever campaign sponsored by Hot Pepper which provides bumper stickers for your car that say: "Bring major league education to Portland."

I'm a Bulldog, a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle, where teachers like Mr. Anderson inspired me to think well beyond the physical world he taught us about every day, and got us thinking about things like investing and developing a good credit history early in life. He wasn't the only gifted teacher, we had a magnet math and science program that attracted top talent from around the city, even though our school was notorious for its ghetto location.

In my graduation class of 1990, we had more National Merit Scholars than anywhere else in Washington state. Two of my classmates even aced the SAT. I wasn't so lucky, but I took what I learned to college and many of the classes were easy compared to the honors classes I took at Garfield.

Now that I've exited the school system and have had a few years to apply my education, I've been lucky enough to work with technology-based companies like StudyDog and here in Portland that help struggling and disadvantaged students succeed. While some believe technology is creating a gap between the haves and have-nots, I believe it's bringing us closer together.

While I agree the system clearly needs help, I am the proud product of the Seattle Public Schools system and an avid supporter of public education. I'm not the type to lose faith in the system; I'd prefer to help fix it. Hence the inspiration for Anvil's First Annual Get SMART Gala, where guests can help by volunteering and/or donating to offset costs for supplies for struggling readers. Please contact me for details on the event, or to help or donate items for the silent auction. More information will be forthcoming. If. For more information on the SMART Reading Program, visit their Web site at