Our Stories

Inspiring Moments and Community Spirit at PEF’s IMAGINE 2024

Thank you!
We surpassed our goal $270,000
The Pasadena Educational Foundation hosted its annual Celebrating Our Schools event on May 7, 2024, at the historic Pasadena City Hall Courtyard. Aptly named “IMAGINE 2024,” the festive evening was a joyful celebration of the exceptional students, innovative programs, and dedicated educators of the Pasadena Unified School District. Guests were treated to lively Folklorico performances, a dazzling student showcase, an enchanting “Into the Woods” performance, and the cool sounds of the Pasadena High School Jazz Band. The event also featured delicious food, making it a night to remember, all while raising funds to support PEF’s mission of achieving excellence and equity in all PUSD schools.

A Vibrant Cultural Experience
Guests were welcomed by the vibrant Folklorico dancers from Madison Elementary School, who performed traditional dances from various Mexican states, providing an unforgettable cultural experience. The courtyard was filled with the sounds of the Pasadena High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Mr. David Miller, creating an atmosphere of celebration and inspiration.

Honoring a Passionate Advocate
The event honored Jane Kaczmarek, an award-winning actor best known for her role in TV’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” with the Exemplary Service Award. Kaczmarek, a committed advocate for public education and the arts, serves as a mentor, philanthropist, and PEF Board Member. She was recognized for her work with PEF and the Pasadena Playhouse, where she inspires students with her passion for theater.

A Magical Musical Performance
In the middle of the program, guests were enchanted by a special musical performance of “Children Will Listen,” under the musical direction of Monica Benson and accompanied by Rebecca Graul. Returning castmates from last year’s phenomenal all-district performance of “Into the Woods” at the Pasadena Playhouse took the stage once again. This heartfelt rendition was performed in honor of Jane Kaczmarek, who had joined them on stage in 2023. Their performance was a beautiful reminder of the magic of theater and the enduring impact of mentorship and collaboration.

Interactive Student Showcase
The interactive student showcase was a highlight of the Pasadena Educational Foundation’s “Celebrating Our Schools Imagine 2024” event. It featured award-winning exhibits and experiences that highlighted the talented students, imaginative teachers, and diverse programs of the Pasadena Unified School District. The showcase allowed guests to embark on a journey of curiosity, with special student-led immersive exhibits, including:

  • It’s Tea Time – Discover calming herbs and medicinal gardens.
  • A Goodwill Rock Garden – Explore the seven principles of Japanese gardens.
  • Become a Certified Candidate – Get “certified” by Student Think Tank members to be a student board member.
  • An Art Feast – Celebrate remarkable women through an imaginative dinner party.
  • Libraries a Center of Imagination – Immerse yourself in the power of libraries as school centers.
  • Building Empathy – Explore the story of Manzanar, a Japanese American incarceration camp during World War II.
  • An Armenian Tapestry – Learn about Armenian culture through symbols and art.
  • Creating with Code – Witness a Hackathon in action.
  • Weaving Stories into Costumes – Be inspired by the magic of costume design.

From hands-on activities to deep and thought-provoking exhibits, the showcase brought the district’s vibrant programs and student achievements to life. Guests left inspired and energized, having experienced firsthand the creativity and innovation thriving within Pasadena Unified schools.

A Collaborative Costume Creation
One of the evening’s most memorable moments was the surprise presentation of a collaborative costume piece envisioned by the students. Guests and students worked together to create a unique jacket, adorned with the word “Imagine” and decorated with ribbons expressing their hopes and dreams for a better world. This heartfelt creation was presented to Jane Kaczmarek at the end of the program, celebrating the collective spirit of inspiration and empowerment that defines the Pasadena Educational Foundation.

Raising Funds for Educational Excellence
The event raised an impressive $270,000, with over 300 guests in attendance. These funds will support PEF’s vital programs and initiatives. The Celebrating Our Schools IMAGINE 2024 event highlighted the power of community collaboration in supporting public education. By bringing together educators, students, community leaders, and supporters, PEF continues to champion excellence and equity in the Pasadena Unified School District, ensuring that every student has access to enriching educational experiences.


Special thanks to The Helen and Will Webster Foundation, The Pasadena Playhouse, Achieving America Family Foundation, California Credit Union, and Jane Kaczmarek
A full list of our sponsors can patrons can be found here!