The Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of its 2011 fall small grants cycle at a recent meeting of the Needham School Committee. Nineteen grants totaling almost $60,000 were awarded to all Needham public schools supporting physical and social wellness, academics, the arts, service learning, bullying prevention and the environment.

The NEF funds programs that promote innovation and excellence in students from pre-kindergarten through high school and fall outside normal funding. Since 1990, the NEF has supported more than 400 grants totaling more than $1.4 million.

  1. Super POWER (Overcoming Bullying) – All Elementary Schools
    Super POWER is a motivational performance program that helps children overcome bullying. More engaging than traditional role-playing programs, it impacts 1,000 third through fifth grade students across the district.
  2. Halau o Keikiali’i: Dancing With the Past – All Elementary Schools
    This creative arts performance introduces elementary school students to ancient and modern forms of Hawaiian dance and the culture from which it originates.
  3. Reading and Drumming for Africa – Eliot
    Artist in residence, Tom Foote, conducts a teacher workshop and classroom lessons on African rhythms. A unique service-learning opportunity, the grant engages students in fundraising for the Room to Read Africa program by participating in a Read-A-Thon, while learning about the African countries they support.
  4. Island Moving Company Dance Movement Residency – Eliot
    Students in grades K-2 learn dance from professional dance educators who incorporate physical education (PE) standards into lessons. The Eliot PE teacher is an active participant, learning how to apply materials and ideas from the program into the school’s ongoing dance education program.
  5. Eliot Mandala: A Community Art Project – Eliot
    Developed by artist Sarah Haskell, Mandala Community Weaving creates an artistic and symbolic expression of community. She shares her ideas and skill with Eliot students and faculty by directing the creation of community artwork for permanent display at the school.
  6. Great Blue Hill Weather Day – Hillside
    This grant funds a trip to the Blue Hill observatory for 1st and 5th grade classes including an observatory presentation, kite building and hiking. The students review weather concepts, observe forecasting equipment at work and experiment with designing, building and flying their own kites.
  7. Indian Classical Dance Residency – Broadmeadow
    A fine arts and cultural awareness program, the grant funds teaching each 2nd grade class a different Indian dance, which the students perform at an assembly for grades K-3. The dance residency is the second part of an anticipated four part series that began with China last year and continues over the next two years with Africa and South America.
  8. Raised Beds for Vegetable Garden – Mitchell
    The grant pays for 12 raised bed kits to simplify planting and increase garden output. It extends a 2008 NEF grant, funding the initial planting of the garden.
  9. I Was Here! – Mitchell
    Artist in residence Caleb Neelon teaches students about graffiti art and its evolution as an art form at art classes and workshops on simple graffiti style lettering. The project culminates in a work of art to be displayed as a collage.
  10. The Geography Game Show – Mitchell
    Neal Nicholas brings his Interactive Geography Learning Experience to all Mitchell students by engaging them in a geography game show. Mr. Nicholas tailors his the program to tie in with grade-level curriculum.
  11. Mitchell Poetry Slam – Mitchell
    This poetry residency funds four poets to lead workshops for students spanning 2nd grade through 5th. Open mike opportunities during lunch period encourage students to practice reading their own poetry. The program culminates in a poetry-reading classroom event to which students’ parents are invited.
  12. Math in Motion – Newman
    Third grade students learn math in a physical way through a program that integrates movement and the reinforcement of math facts. The program offers a variety of academic and physical benefits and is sustainable year after year.
  13. Robotics, Anyone? – Pollard
    Robotics, Anyone extends the successful High School Robotics program to middle school students.
  14. Game Day – Pollard
    This grant funds word games for middle school teachers to use in the classroom.
  15. The Dangers of Intoxication Learning Center- Pollard
    Middle school students experience the altering effects of alcohol use with special goggles funded by the NEF. The goggles are one component of a detailed lesson plan that uses hands-on methods to engage students in alcohol education.
  16. Refurbishing Computers for Education and Community Building – NHS
    A student-sponsored grant for the NHS Linux Club, the program funds materials that enable the club to refurbish old computers and donate them to families in Needham Public Housing.
  17. Independent Student Theater Project – NHS
    This grant funds seed money for an annual, student-run production. Students use proceeds from ticket sales to fund the next year’s production. The program is an expansion of a successful student production funded last year by the NEF.
  18. Steps to Success Program Development – NHS
    For the growing HS mentoring program, this grant funds a project developer to conduct research and provide recommendations for materials, activities, assessment, training and expansion. Other responsibilities include developing a best practices handbook and coordinating trainer sessions. The program enjoys significant community support and is sustained through an annual fundraiser.
  19. Social Skills Curriculum Enhancement – All Schools
    This grant helps fund the enhancement of existing social skills programming for students with autism and other social skills deficits. It includes district-wide, in-service training on video modeling research and techniques; as well as the purchase of DVDs and iPods for recording and viewing.