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NEF Awards Over $30,000 in Spring Grants

Press Release-Spring Small Grant Awards (1)

A Study of Courage for Mitchell 5th Grade Students

Two Mitchell 5th graders proudly show their work to William Muorwel, a former Lost Boy of Sudan.

 

Eighty students in Mitchell School’s fifth grade classrooms are undertaking a year-long “study in courage” thanks to a $3,500 grant from the NEF.  The goal of the grant, written by Mitchell Assistant Vice Principal Barbara Hayden and the 5th grade teachers, is to introduce 5th graders to inspirational people who have demonstrated courage and resiliency in overcoming obstacles–with a special focus on individuals from diverse cultures and races.  “Thanks to the NEF Grant, our students are learning to face the inevitable difficulties of life. Our hope is that our students will work hard — giving up less often because they will realize what is making them want to give up and address it.” said Hayden.
 
This fall, students participated in a read aloud of the book Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate and then completed a partner project based on the book.  This piece of historical fiction tells the story of a young Sudanese civil war survivor adapting to life in Minnesota. In October, fifth graders were visited by two inspirational speakers, William Muorel and Moses Ajou, both Lost Boys of the Sudan and survivors of the Sudanese civil war. The men shared their struggles, strategies for coping, and their ways of finding joy in life after losing their homes and families.  Said Colleen Soldato, a fifth grade teacher, “The grant has provided a cross-curricular opportunity for students to explore topics such as immigration and what it means to be an American.  This learning was brought to life by the visit from the former Lost Boys, William and Moses.”
 
In the spring, students will read about other courageous people who have faced adversity and overcome obstacles as they conduct partner research and prepare a presentation for their classmates.  The NEF grant funded a library of biographies and autobiographies for this project. Finally, fifth graders will participate in service-learning projects to support the South Sudanese Enrichment Center for Families in Medford and a school for children in South Sudan later this year.
 
So far, the grant has seemed to make a lasting impression, particularly the visit from the two former Lost Boys of Sudan.  As one fifth grader said, “You sent across a message to never give up and be optimistic and follow what you want to do, and work hard for what you want to do!  I will never forget that and never forget this presentation.”

 

Blues Guitar Player Visits Needham High

 

NEF was proud to award the “Blues in the Schools”  grant to Needham High School to fund a visit from Toby Walker (pictured), a Master Blues Artist and member of the NY Blues Hall of Fame.  He provided an engaging presentation to the African American Studies classes that follows the history of blues from slavery, emancipation, and beyond.  He also shared his personal narrative of how he came to acquire his knowledge journeying through the south.  He also worked with guitar classes to teach them how to play blues style music, including rhythms and picking techniques.

See the article that appeared in the Hometown Weekly.

NEF Awards $44,351 in Spring Grants

May 11, 2016 – The Needham Education Foundation announced the recipients of 10 grants totaling $44,351 in the spring small grants cycle at the Needham School Committee meeting last night.  These include four (4) multi-school grants benefiting all five elementary schools, the largest of which provides math backpacks for all Needham kindergarten classrooms to build early math literacy around Common Core standards and facilitate math-related activities at home.

Awarded grants also include:

  • An interdisciplinary workshop for African American and Guitar classes at Needham High School (NHS) about the history of Blues with visiting Master Blues artist Toby Walker.
  • The transformation of the current technology lab at High Rock into a Creation Lab that will allow for stop motion and animation creation, green screen videos, audio recording and book creation.
  • A three-film series and panel discussions focused on the future of education and designed to promote family and community dialogue around educational innovation.
  • Number sense challenge kits for all elementary schools which enable individualized math enrichment at all grade levels.
  • Twenty-five (25) Lightbox interactive multimedia learning modules for K-5 students in all elementary schools, including modules on Four Seasons, Continents, Earth’s Water, Forces of Nature and Rock Science.
  • A summer book mailer program, which builds on a successful pilot, intended to prevent “summer slide” among struggling 3rd and 4th grade readers at Broadmeadow.
  • “A Study of Courage” ELA/Social Studies unit for Mitchell 5th graders, in which students study inspirational people who have demonstrated resiliency and which includes a visit from two lost boys of the Sudan as well as service-learning projects.
  • A school-wide book reading program for Newman teachers, administrators, parents and students focused on developing strategies and classroom activities for cultivating grit, supporting resiliency and learning from failure.
  • An “express” grant, which replicates successful grants at Mitchell, Hillside and Eliot, to build more culturally diverse classroom libraries at Newman Elementary and Needham Preschool.

The NEF is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit organization that raises funds for the enrichment of public school children in Needham. Since 1990, the NEF has funded more than 560 grants, totaling over $2.6 million, to promote innovation and excellence in education. To learn more about the Needham Education Foundation and how you can support it, please visit www.nefneedham.org.

 

For more information contact:

Tina McHugh, Communications

Needham Education Foundation

tmchugh@nefneedham.org

781-974-2048

“Own Your Peace” at NHS Sculptures Promote Community and Individual Well-Being

Own Your Peace girls

 

Two senior art classes collaborated with art teacher Wendy Hodge and visiting artist Jodi Colella to design, build, and publicize two temporary school-wide art installations as part of the Own Your Peace-Piece initiative. This initiative was funded in Fall 2015 with an NEF small grant. Members of the school community were invited to write on colorful fabric pieces about how they “own their peace” and to tie what they wrote to two sculptures: “The Bridge,” which is located in the area connecting the old and new school buildings, and “The Cave,” which is located under a staircase and symbolizes the creation of a comfortable space of “protection and safety.”

This project taught students how to organize community art installations and connect them to the high school’s annual Speak Out assembly and the Own Your Peace sculpture outside of the school. As one student said, “This was a beautiful and fun way to share your voice and let it become part of something bigger.”

Check out coverage of this initiative in the Needham Times and Hometown Weekly.

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