Just about the only way you will get time and a photo of Math teacher Jennifer Lee, is if you focus on her students. This savvy, determined teacher and mentor wants nothing more than for her students to learn, succeed and make a difference in their community and the world. That’s exactly why she is an excellent teacher for Mackinaw City High School and advisor for the Straits Area Community Foundation’s (SACF) Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
Jennifer has been the YAC advisor for 16 years, starting the same year she began teaching. She joined the board for the Straits Area Community Foundation just two years later and also served for nine years on the board for the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) Board of Trustees as a representative for SACF. She says she “really enjoys how the Youth Advisory Council has grown and the way the students take their responsibilities so seriously.” That was very evident on a recent trip to Mackinaw City High School, one of four high schools that participate in the Straits Area YAC.
SAYAC members were quick to share how much it means to them to make decisions on grants that can help their community and schools. They pointed out a recent grant that enabled the students to purchase a popcorn machine for the school that was then used to raise funds for a class trip to Washington, D.C. They said the grant is“an example of how a small amount of money can be leveraged to do big things, and will continue to help future students for years to come.”
The students who participate credit YAC for “helping them to be more responsible with money” and appreciating how “philanthropy is much more than just making a donation.” They strive to be good stewards of every dollar they award in grants. Oftentimes, that means making some tough decisions when they have more requests than available grant dollars.
The YAC members said they also participate in community services throughout the year, noting that it gives them a chance to make more people aware of the Community Foundation and the importance of giving back.