January, 2019

PEER, and our partners at LeyVa Middle School, celebrated computer science education at a Family Tech Night on Tuesday, January 22. The event included coding, robotics, multimedia, computer science student exhibits, and more.  The evening was kicked off by the presentation of a $10,000 award for LeyVa and the PEER Foundation that will enhance the extended day computer science programs hosted by PEER.

The award is part of the Wells Fargo Change the Future Grant.  "We are committed to ensuring that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is expanded through innovative programs. Our partnership with Wells Fargo is a great opportunity for students to learn needed skills in computer science," said Dr. Lisa Andrew, SVEF CEO. 


The PEER Foundation partners with LeyVa Middle School to provide students with innovative STEM and CTE based activities during the day and after school at our suite of classrooms, The Studios at LeyVa.  Studios' learning experiences include coding, robotics, multi-media, app development, 3D design, college and career exploration and entrepreneurship. The $10,000 award will expand LeyVa's computer science program options to include a HaCkRZ Club which will give students an opportunity to apply tech skills in preparation for a final "hackathon" event later this Spring. "We plan to build a competence toolbox for the students by exposing them to a variety of disciplines that could prove helpful in the hackathon including coding, web development, physical computing with Arduino, mobile app design, AR, animation, AI and 3D printing," said Stacey Johnston, PEER Executive Director. 



June, 2019

PEER's LeyVa Bulldog HaCkRZ group proudly represented the middle school at a Hack-A-Thon event hosted by Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Wells Fargo and PwC for the Change the Future grant recipients on Friday, May 31st.  Approximately 100 middle and high school students came together to  pitch their ideas to address community based problems. 


HaCkrZ team projects included a school security surveillance initiative, a drone-based campus visibility tool, and an app to change the way students order lunch.  The LunchPay app team won best overall presentation showcasing their innovative way to improve the quality of students' lunchtime by streamlining ordering and reducing lines.  It was a great day for everyone who participated.


The LunchPay team is planning to continue to work on their business idea.



April, 2018

PEER is partnering with LeyVa Middle School, Career Pathways at East Side Union High School District, Evergreen School District, Silver Creek High School, and NFTE! (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) to bring “Blue Sky BIZCAMP” (Operation Mindset), an entrepreneurship “experience” to students.

Teaching entrepreneurship can change mindsets and lives by equipping  young people with an innovator’s eye and a founder’s grit – the skills to excel in an innovation economy..  BIZCAMP provides engaging activities, including a field trip to a local business and a “shark tank” - type final event where their entrepreneurial projects will be presented to friends, families, and local business professionals.  This program is a capstone entrepreneurial opportunity for exiting 8th grade students transitioning to high school.   


January, 2018

The STEAM workshop curriculum that was developed as a result of PEER’s partnership with Evergreen School District continues to evolve and serve students.    For the 2017-2018 school year, Norwood Creek and Laurelwood Elementary schools went “full steam ahead” with workshops for all students during the school day.  The workshops included app development, CAD and 3D printing, robotics, coding, and stop motion animation.


PEER has worked to customize an intentional, sequential set of workshops that build upon each other so that students get increasingly advanced exposure over time.  “We are setting out to develop a model that exposes elementary school students to specific 21st century skills.” Stacey Johnston, Executive Director, explains. “ For example, we begin in kindergarten with an introduction to robotics which starts the kids thinking in very logical sequences and patterns.  Moving forward, sixth grade students then participate in workshops that draw on coding experience learned in lower grades as they explore creating apps.”



April, 2017

Since March 2017, over 1,000 K through 6th grade students in Evergreen School District (ESD) have been introduced to new STEM workshops and another 800 will be reached before the end of the school year.  This STEM learning initiative marks the first step in a partnership between ESD and PEER Foundation, a local non-profit, to bring enhanced educational enrichment to the students in the Evergreen School District. 


The pilot program included age and grade-appropriate workshops for all students.  Grades K-2 were introduced to basic programming using color code patterns to control Ozobot robots.  Grades 3 and 4 were introduced to block based programming using Scratch and were introduced to basic conductivity with a device called Makey Makey.  Grades 5 and 6 were introduced to 3D Printing and Computer Aided Design (CAD) and were able to design and print their own projects.  These programs are designed to introduce students and teachers to new tools and technologies supporting establishing a critical foundation on which they can continue to build their STEM education. 


“Working with PEER allows us give our students exposure to some innovative STEM programs, and pilot new ways of offering project based and student directed learning opportunities in our schools” said Dan Deguara, Assistant Superintendent of Evergreen School District. Stacey Johnston, Executive Director of PEER, adds, “PEER Foundation is excited to be working with Evergreen School District to provide new and creative approaches to enrich the learning environments for our students.” 



November, 2016

The Norwood Creek elementary community has stepped up and raised approximately $55,000.00 through direct donations and corporate matching contributions.  Unlike most of the fundraising alternatives, over 90% of the funds raised will go into the classrooms to enrich learning for students this year.  With these funds, the school will have resources to host PTA sponsored programs and events, supplement classroom materials and resources, host a student art show, provide STEM classroom workshops and invest in additional technology.

“Norwood Creek had some experience with direct donations for technology,” said Nanette Donahue, Norwood Creek Principal, “but this year we decided to work with PEER to expand this to include raising funds for multiple needs and initiatives at the school.” The ‘Let’s Do This’ fundraiser theme engaged the parent communities in expanding their vision for investing in their children’s education.  ”For Norwood, this was the most successful fund raiser to date and for myself and school staff, working with PEER made it one of the easiest to pull off,” continued Mrs. Donahue.



October, 2016

At this year’s Evergreen School District annual Strategic Planning Retreat, attended by  parents, teachers, community members and District employees and Board members, Principal Jim Sherman of LeyVa Middle School commented of the need for wrestling mats at his school.  Though he really didn’t expect anything to come from it, Stacey Johnston, Executive Director of PEER, was at that meeting and heard the comment.


Though PEER, being in start up phase, was not in a position to directly meet the need, Stacey contacted Master Kevin Waldschmidt (MKW) of Vision Martial Arts, a local business owner and LeyVa alum who in turn contacted Dr. Raymond Raven, a  friend and fellow LeyVa alum and let him know of the need.  Dr. Raven generously offered to donate the funds for the mats.


Bulldog Tech Teacher and LeyVa Wrestling Coach Geoff Wellington writes, “Thank you to everyone who contributed their time and efforts and a very special thank you to Dr. Raven for the generous donation in making the purchase of a new wrestling mat for LeyVa Middle School possible. The order has been placed and the mat is in production”.  Dr. Raven is looking forward to seeing the mat and the watching the first match on it.



September, 2016

PEER Foundation is pleased to announce that we have established a partnership with the Evergreen School District.  "This will enable us to work with them to bring enhanced academic enrichment programs to the students in the district,” said Stacey Johnston, PEER’s Executive Director.


PEER’s mission is to engage communities, empower learning and strengthen schools. “We do this with community partnerships and strategic alliances that work together to support our schools in taking steps into the future," Mrs. Johnston continued.  


Kathy Gomez, Evergreen School District Superintendent commented ”We are excited about our relationship with PEER.  We view them as a Strategic Partner that is available to help us implement important programs that are a challenge  to manage from a resource perspective.”



"We are excited about our relationship with PEER.  We view them as a Strategic Partner that is available to help us implement important programs that are a challenge to manage from a resource perspective."

- Kathy Gomez

ESD Superintendent