An honoree, member, director and president of numerous associations, organizations and committees in the Santa Barbara area, Ed Heron is a man of many hats. And this year he can add a new cap to his collection.

Ed Heron

Ed Heron

The Santa Barbara Education Foundation (SBEF) calls it HOPE: Honoring Outstanding Public Education.

SBEF will honor Heron at the HOPE Award presentation 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E. De La Guerra St.

The award presentation will be preceded by a silent auction, provide tastings of local restaurants and wine as well as showcase local high school culinary programs. The reception will be kicked off with a bang by the La Cumbre Junior High drumline. 

Heron has lived in Santa Barbara for some 70 years, but he began his involvement with the Santa Barbara School Board in 2008, with the expectation of making changes in “the quality of education for all children, our most important assets.” And make a difference he did.

Cultivating “trust, civility, respect, and dignity” in this community was the name of the game, meanwhile developing a more collaborative relationship between schools, businesses, and the greater community.

To dignify the state of our schools, he supported bond measures that aided in the revamping of outdated facilities. Refining the physical state of local educational facilities has boosted morale in students and teachers, providing a respectable environment more conducive to teaching and learning.

Heron made it a priority to focus on the success of English learners and students with special needs, (think: spearheading action plans for special education). He also supported parcel taxes used for funding not only schools’ STEM programs but arts and music as well.

This was all dependent on a financial reassessment of the local school district (cue the “fiscal hawk,” as Heron was aptly named in the Santa Barbara Independent, 2012).

Along with honoring Heron’s influence in the community and its schools, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s own achievements this year will be highlighted at the April 20 event.

SBEF has raised funds for a multitude of projects and programs that provide safer play structures, basic classroom resources, music education for every student in grades K-6, summer school, and early childhood education.

Due to the vision of local schools’ leadership and the generosity of the community, students are more confident and well-equipped to tackle the rigors of school.

The successes of students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District are influenced by SBEF with the help of community and family foundations, community members and sponsors such as Montecito Bank and Trust, Verizon Wireless, Griffith & Thornburgh, and SAGE Publications.

Tickets for the award event are available online at

— Mikayla McNair for the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.