Mark Fandel, Lifetouchby Mark Fandel | Local Territory Manager, Lifetouch

Like so many residents of Wake County, I am a transplant. In 2014, my family and I moved to Holly Springs from northern Illinois. When offered the opportunity to relocate, my wife and I were all for it given the milder winters, the chance to be closer to East Coast-based family, and the knowledge that we would be moving to a thriving area with so much to offer culturally.

As parents, our first and most important question was, of course, “How are the schools?” Research, conversations with friends living in the area and lots of Googling reassured us that our then 12 year-old and 15 year-old daughters would be able to grow and learn in a school district committed to excellence. Now nearly three years later, I couldn’t be happier with the educations they’ve received and continue to receive.

In my role as the local territory manager for Lifetouch, a company that has been providing school photography nationwide for more than 80 years, I’ve been equally impressed with the Wake County Public School System and the passionate commitment of administrators, educators and families. My team and I have the privilege of being in schools every day, capturing memories for the children of Wake County. We truly consider it an honor to be a part of students’ lives from kindergarten through to graduation and proms. In return, we look for ways to give back.

Every year, through commissions, ID cards, safety program initiatives, candid photography and more, Lifetouch returns $100 million to schools throughout America. Wake County schools received more than $350,000 this past academic year. Lifetouch is the major sponsor of a national safety program, SmileSafe, in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington D.C. To date, the Lifetouch SmileSafe Safety Program has been credited with the safe return of missing children in 24 states. Some 500 million parents have received an extra measure of security with SmileSafe photo ID cards.

In Wake County, Lifetouch identifies opportunities to positively impact school communities by introducing programs that help these communities address the daily challenges their students face. Recently, Lifetouch hosted and sponsored school assembly programs at Heritage High School and Athens Drive High School. These assemblies were delivered by TEEN TRUTH, which has been heralded as the leading anti-bully and student empowerment experience. Seeing the difference programs like this can make in the lives of students here locally, I am humbled by the value of being a partner with WCPSS, not just a vendor.

Being an investor in WakeEd Partnership is one of the best ways I can personally and professionally give back to support a school system I value and a community that I am so proud to call home. As a member of the Marketing Advisory Council, I am able to support the organization’s mission to provide every student with excellent educational opportunities, highly effective teachers, and strong leaders. It is an honor for me to work with the other investors and administration on behalf of Lifetouch to find the best way to give every WCPSS student an excellent education.

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