[heading] by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Spark Photography [/heading]

Gael Gilson and Sue Bedford joined the Tierra Bonita Elementary School PTA when their children first started at the school – Gael in 1995 and Sue in 2000.  Fast forward to 2012, and these two women have put in countless hours supporting the school and its students.  “The Tierra Bonita PTA is always very busy organizing activities and programs for the children and fundraising events to support them,” mentioned Sue.

Gael and Sue agree that Multicultural Night, which takes place every other spring, is their proudest achievement while volunteering with the TBES PTA.  “We are bringing an understanding to our kids that it is important to embrace our differences.  We are thrilled to see other cultural events popping up all over the district,” said Gael and Sue, who put on the most recent Multicultural Night on May 4, 2012.

Multicultural Night began in 1996 when Gael, who teaches English Language Learners at Tierra Bonita, wanted to create a way for those children to share something of their heritage with others in the TBES community.  “It was an opportunity for them to showcase their cultural heritage and celebrate their diverse backgrounds through songs, games and food from their countries.  It was also a way to introduce children from Poway to diverse cultures and experiences,” explained Gael, who is originally from New Zealand and has lived all over the world.

From that small celebration, Tierra Bonita’s Multicultural Night has evolved into a large scale extravaganza, with booths representing 26 countries, food, music, dancing, crafts and games.  According to Sue, upon arriving at the school entrance families will find that it has been transformed into a cruise ship dock.  “Captain ‘E’ – otherwise known as  Joe Erpelding, the Principal of Tierra Bonita, greets children with a passport to be stamped at every country which has magically appeared inside the school,” said Sue, who immigrated to the United States from England in 1996.

Both women are quick to note that they could not put on such a successful event without a great deal of support.  “There are too many people to thank individually, as we must thank every member of the TBES PTA, teachers, staff and parents who help to organize the booths, work tirelessly behind the scenes and support all the fundraising events,” said Gael and Sue in gratitude.

[heading] [tab title=”Gael Gilson Profile”]

Residence: Poway
Affiliation: Poway High School
Occupation:  Teacher at Tierra Bonita
Family:  Married to Pat with 3 kids

[/tab] [tab title=”Sue Bedford Profile”]

Residence:   Poway
Affiliation:  Tierra Bonita PTA
Occupation:  Part-time Bookkeeper
Family:  Married to Simon with 3 kids

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