First Bell: Just who are these generous ‘Bobs,’ anyway?; Pioneer Ridge wins Employer of the Year Award; looking ahead to summer vacation

A few notes and items regarding education in the area:

The Bobs’ Award gives one outstanding educator in the Lawrence school district $10,000 to be used for whatever he or she pleases.

But don’t ask who the Bobs are.

Susan Esau, executive director of the Lawrence Schools Foundation, says simply that the 17 donors all share the same name and choose to finance the award to honor quality teaching, remaining anonymous so that they don’t distract from the winner or the winner’s accomplishments.

When winner Renee Babin politely asked for the Bobs’ names, Esau joked that the teacher at Schwegler School would need to sign a “blood oath” promising to never disclose their names. But Esau explained that Babin would get an opportunity to meet the Bobs during a celebration event later this year, to which she and all previous winners would be invited.

I asked around Monday to see if anybody would give up the names. No dice.

Here are the results of my strong line of questioning in the principal’s office Monday morning at Schwegler, as we all waited to head down to the special assembly to surprise Babin.

Question: Who are the Bobs?

• Esau: “I don’t know. I don’t really know.”

• Rick Doll, district superintendent: “I don’t know. I don’t.”

• Bob Arevalo, the district’s division director for human resources: “I’m sworn to secrecy. You’ll never know. You’ll never get it. I’m unaware of their names. I don’t know who the Bobs are. My name is Bob but I’m not one of the Bobs. I’m just a Bob. I’m not the Bob.”

I think I noticed another Bob in the shadows, but I couldn’t catch his name.

Somebody got to these people.


Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community is the Lawrence school district’s Supported Work Employer of the Year, an award presented to a business that provides employment opportunities for special-education students and others in transition.

Pioneer Ridge provided a hosted work site for junior high and high school students, and welcomed students from each high school and the Community Connections Center to play volleyball and participate in art projects with seniors living at the center.

The center also had a drive among Pioneer Ridge employees, to collect 500 grooming and hygiene products to be provided through the clothing room at the Community Connections Center. Lea Hart, the center’s dietary manager, took more than a dozen pies in the face from her own employees, whose donations gave them opportunities to deliver the facial food.

And Pioneer Ridge employs district students who may need special assistance getting jobs. In the kitchen alone, Pioneer Ridge has as many as four working at any one time, and all of them “really brighten our day,” Hart said.

“As long as they keep giving me kids, I’ll be happy,” she said.


Today is the last day of school for anyone left still taking classes in the Lawrence school district.

I’m curious: What’s everyone doing with their summer vacations?

I’ll be here for most of the summer, writing stories and taking pictures and shooting video and otherwise following schools and school issues. But I’d sure like to know if anyone’s doing anything fun out there.

And hey: If it has something to do with schools, education or other related topics, I might just have a chance to put together an item about it.