The NEF announced the recipients of three large grants totaling $33,135 at the Needham School Committee on March 6, 2018.

Two Needham parents, Carolyn Guttilla and Martha Cohen Barrett, were awarded a grant for the development and execution of a program which aims to: increase students’ awareness of how social media posts can be misinterpreted, encourage students to develop empathy regarding the impact of digital communication on those around them, aid students in creating personal strategies for dealing with digital communication, and help students decrease stress surrounding digital communication. The program will be developed and led by a Boston University sociologist and will include professional development for Pollard teachers, parent meetings to discuss and provide practical tips, and workshops for Pollard students.

Jean Tower, Director of Media and Digital Learning at Needham Public Schools, was awarded a grant to purchase a Padcaster Studio for each school, as well as five iPads with enhanced cameras and storage space. This new mobile technology will allow K-12 students to create video projects that demonstrate their learning.

The third grant awarded was for a summer reading program for at-risk readers in fourth and fifth grades. Available to all five elementary schools through Needham Community Education, the Skills & Thrills: World Tour program will build upon the successful structures already in place in the Skills & Thrills program for grades 1-3. Through engaging, interdisciplinary projects, students will apply critical reading and note-taking skills as they explore countries of the world through informational text, biographies, hybrid fiction and traditional literature. Upper grade students will have the opportunity to mentor younger readers, develop global awareness, and avoid the “summer slide,” a significant regression in reading that often occurs during the summer months. The grant was written by Andrea Vargas, a Needham Public Schools Literacy Coach.