Happy New Year from OPEF! 2020 brought many changes and many challenges for all of us. As we look back, we are grateful for the continued support of all of our donors. Without the generous support of our community members and area businesses we would not be able to fulfill our mission of providing funds for classroom grants which directly benefit Oconomowoc Area School District students.

The difficult decision to cancel our 2020 annual ball which serves as our primary source of revenue had a great impact, but our volunteer board members are eager to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make 2021 a banner year for OPEF. However, we cannot do it alone. Please consider joining the OPEF Board of Directors or joining one of our many committees. The rewards of being an OPEF board member are beyond measurable. If you are pulled in many directions at this time, but would still like to help, please consider a donation to one of OPEF's many educational funds.
Get to know OPEF Board Members:
A.J. Mueller and Kerry Rich
A.J. Mueller joined the OPEF Board of Directors in January 2017 and currently serves as the co-chair for the Ball Committee. A.J. lives in Oconomowoc with her wonderful husband Jim, their two great sons, Luke and Jake and their amazing daughter, Brooke. They moved to Oconomowoc in 2016 from Utah. They lived in Utah to enjoy the great outdoors, but having grown up in the Midwest, they decided to move back to be closer to family.

A.J. works as a special education paraprofessional for the Oconomowoc Area School District. In addition to her volunteer work with OPEF, she is also a member of the Silver Lake Intermediate School PTO and a Regional Social Responsibility Liaison for Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority. A.J.'s husband works as a Learning Strategist at Ixonia Elementary, so currently, her family is at four of the eight schools in the district. In her free time, A.J enjoys spending time with her family. They love to mountain bike, snow ski, hike and travel. She also loves to run and sew.

A.J. had only lived in town for a year when she joined the OPEF board. She had heard about all the work OPEF does giving back to the schools so she thought it would be a great way for her to connect with the community and the schools. A.J. brings great ideas, insights and enthusiasm to the OPEF board.

When asked why people should get involved with OPEF, this is what A.J. had to say:

"Becoming involved with OPEF would be a great way to see our district in action. It’s not just about reading and writing in the classrooms. It’s about teachers and staff connecting with children and helping their minds soar beyond the walls of the buildings. The creative, educational and often necessary grants that have been awarded over the years have been able to expand the learning that goes on everyday in OASD. It has been fantastic to be a part of the fundraising, grant process and to see the grants in action. OPEF can fit into anyone’s lifestyle whether it be as a supporter, volunteer or board member. Come join us, we’d love to have you!"
Kerry Rich joined the OPEF Board of Directors in January 2017 and has served on the ball committee since that time. She just recently began her second term. She currently works for the Oconomowoc Area School District as a special education paraprofessional at Meadow View Elementary in the mornings and then she spends her afternoons as a paraprofessional in the curriculum department keeping track of all the district science kits.

She has four children and one sweet grandson, 6-month-old Peter. Her oldest daughter, Megan, is a music teacher/band director in the Downers Grove school district in Illinois. Middle daughter, Maura, an OHS graduate, works as an accountant in Milwaukee and currently serves on the OPEF Board as the Treasurer. Kerry’s youngest daughter, Molly, also an OHS grad, works as a leasing manager in Oshkosh. Kerry’s son, Patrick, is an 8th grader at Nature Hill Intermediate and she loves watching him play baseball and football. When she is not working or volunteering, her favorite pastimes are spending time with family and reading.

Kerry enjoys planning and decorating for the OPEF annual ball. Given her passion for reading, her favorite ball theme was Harry Potter. Kerry said the ball has been such a wonderful tradition for OPEF that has allowed the organization to give back in the form of classroom grants. Circumstances surrounding Covid required the board to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 OPEF Ball. However, the ball committee remains active and committed to finding creative ways to continue to raise funds for our schools.

OPEF is grateful to the help and support of volunteers like A.J. and Kerry!
2019-2020 Grants in Action
Last year, OPEF awarded nearly $30,000 in grants to the Oconomowoc Area School District for innovative and creative projects to enhance the learning needs of our students. While the Covid pandemic prevented us from capturing all these grants in action during the 2019-20 school year, we know a lot of important work took place throughout the year. Take a look at some of these exciting projects in action. A special thanks to Mike Krill for creating this video. Thank you to all of our generous donors, sponsors and supporters!
The holidays may be over, but for non-profits such as ours, the giving season never ends. We rely on the generosity of our donors in order to carry out our mission. Now more than ever, many people are relying on the safety and convenience of online shopping. Our organization can benefit each time you make an eligible Amazon purchase. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible purchases to OPEF.

Simply visit and select the Oconomowoc Public Education Foundation as your designated charity when you are doing your online shopping on Amazon. Thank you in advance for choosing OPEF!

President's Message
I spent the last few days packing away my Christmas decorations for another year. My house always feels so bare afterwards and it’s a bit unsettling for me. Truthfully, the bareness also just feels cleaner (in a more streamlined sort of way), kind of like a fresh start. So, that’s my challenge for myself this year, to reframe my thinking to see the world around me (no matter how small it feels at times) with a positive attitude and to get my complaining in check. I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou who challenged complaining, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain”. That’s the advice I’m adopting in 2021 because I spent too much of my time complaining in 2020! Whatever you choose for your New Year’s resolution, I wish you and your family a new year filled with delightful moments too numerous to count. I am so thankful for you and your support of OPEF.

Happy New Year!    

Barb Woodruff
OPEF Board President
P.O. Box 444
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066
Phone: 262-560-2178