To even the newest members of the BT community, it is evident that BT’s faculty and staff are incredibly committed to their students and demonstrate a high desire to constantly improve and make the school and the lives of students even better. The Shikhar and Kristin Saxena Family Foundation recognized this and approached the school with an innovative idea - ask faculty and staff to dream big. As CFO and CEO, respectively, as well as BT parents, Shikhar and Kristin Saxena knew that some of the greatest ideas can sometimes feel too big or crazy to pursue given the many priorities requiring school funds.
The Saxena Family Foundation created the Dream Big Grant program to create an opportunity for some of these ideas to come to fruition. Ultimately, the foundation awarded grants totaling $100K to fund two big projects this year.
“Our family is so appreciative of the incredible dedication of the faculty and staff at this school,” said Kristin Saxena. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to fund incredible initiatives in the areas of student mental health and fine arts this year at BT.”
Thirty faculty and staff members submitted applications for consideration. The two winning proposals were drafted by school counselor Jamie Beaner and music teacher Jules DeSalvo.
Beaner’s big idea was to offer more mental health support through dedicated space and on-campus therapists. Through the Dream Big Grant, BT is now able to offer therapy services, provided by Arbor Family Counseling, on BT's campus at no cost. Therapists will come to campus three days per week to conduct appointments with students, faculty, and staff, which will minimize class time missed since the student will no longer have to travel for appointments and reduce barriers to accessing mental health care. As part of the grant, BT will also create a calming room in the counseling space that increases a student's comfort when they come to the counselor in crisis.
“I hope these offerings will encourage those who have not considered private therapy to consider exploring this avenue of wellness to see if it might be beneficial for them,” said Beaner. “I am particularly glad that the grant also includes the opportunity for faculty and staff to participate, as our mental well-being directly affects the way we can positively impact our students. I believe these initiatives will further develop our identity of being a caring community that values mental health and whose members support one another.”
Jules DeSalvo’s Raider Music Academy will be a program that partners BT with private music instructors from the Omaha Conservatory of Music. These instructors will provide one-on-one and small group lessons to BT’s music students enrolled in Middle and Upper School during the school day and early afternoon.
“I hope that we will see students feeling more competent with music, which will lead to more confidence and enjoyment,” said DeSalvo. “Music has a unique way of fulfilling BT's mission to know, inspire, and challenge every student. Students will form meaningful connections with their instructor, they will be inspired by the beautiful music that they are practicing, and they will be challenged to grow individually as musicians.”
Thank you, Saxena family, for supporting BT faculty and staff’s big dreams!
- Cross Divisional