NEF Funds Six Spring Grants Totaling $41,407

May 22, 2024

At the Needham School Committee meeting on May 21st, the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of six grants totaling $41,407 in its spring grant cycle.

Awarded grants include:

YA Literature: Diverse Voices
Class sets of contemporary young adult (YA) novels, teaching resource volumes, and an author visit by one of the selected YA authors to support a new full-year course offering for 12th graders at Needham High School entitled “YA Literature: Diverse Voices.” Texts will include complex human dilemmas, along with compelling, disconcerting characters, and challenge readers to re-examine their understanding of the world.
— Awarded to AnnMarie Kannon, High School English Teacher

Drama Center Props
Furniture and equipment, including kitchens, market stands, cash registers, kitchen equipment, and numerous food items, with many from different cultures, to support diverse and educational dramatic play centers in all five kindergarten classrooms at Newman Elementary School. Drama centers support a variety of skills, including creativity, social skills, language, and organization. While utilized throughout the year, the items will be especially helpful during the “Our Community” curriculum unit, in which students learn about what it means to be a community member and the different places in our community.
— Awarded to Lesley Stroud, Kindergarten Teacher

Bringing the Portrait Competencies to Life: PONG Picture Books
Five picture books for each of the K-5 classrooms in the Needham Public Schools that in a developmentally appropriate way, will introduce and reinforce one of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate competencies – Creative Thinkers & Problem Solvers, Responsible & Resilient Individuals, Socially & Culturally Responsive Contributors, Communicators & Collaborators, and Empowered Learners. During designated weeks of the school year, each competency will be highlighted, providing an opportunity for teachers and students to identify the competencies, discuss them, and consider how they show the competency in their own lives.
— Awarded to Caren Firger, Newman Assistant Principal, Chris Gosselin, Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation

Polar GoFit with Polar E-Unite Heart Rate Watch
Sixty Polar E-Unite wrist-based heart rate monitors, the Polar GoFit app license, and virtual training sessions to introduce this new technology in Wellness classes for all students at High Rock Middle School. By allowing students to visualize their heart rate in real-time, the heart rate monitors will allow students to monitor their exertion levels, perform data analysis, promote personalized learning and goal setting, and build a foundation for lifelong health.
— Awarded to Jonathan Grant, Wellness teacher, Dan Amato, Wellness teacher, Denise Domnarski, Wellness Director

High Rock Community Service Learning Garden
Construction costs and materials to build five raised garden beds at High Rock Middle School which will be used to grow herbs and vegetables to be donated to the residents of the Linden Street Needham Housing Authority located across the street from the school. Students will choose which crops and herbs to plant after researching the needs of the Linden Street residents and the best short-season crops that will maximize food production within the academic year. Students will also plant, maintain, and harvest the crops.
— Awarded to Stephen Miller, 6th grade science teacher & CSL Coordinator; Dr. Jessica Downey, Principal High Rock School

Powering Up Access: Playaways for the Newman Library Collection
Fifty Playaways (standalone audiobook players) and two bookcases to offer a portable, screen-free option for all students at the Newman Elementary School library. Each Playaway is for one fiction or nonfiction title. Audiobooks help students develop listening comprehension skills, explore texts beyond their reading level, and connect with different cultures or experiences in a meaningful way. 
— Awarded to Jennifer Murray, Library Teacher