NEF Funds 12 Fall Grants Totaling $50,102

At the Needham School Committee meeting last night, the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) announced the recipients of 12 grants totaling $50,102 in the fall grant cycle. Two of the grants provide for professional development in STEAM and visual arts, impacting instruction and curriculum across all five elementary schools. A large grant at the High School will fund an artist-in-residency program “Your Voice Matters. What’s Your Story?” to foster community and facilitate conversations around empathy and equity. 

Awarded grants also include:

  • Four performances for the Pollard 8th grade of “A Revolution of Her Own!” — the story of Deborah Sampson, the first woman to enlist, fight, and be honorably discharged from the American Military. 
  • A visit with graphic novel author of “She the People,” Jen Deaderick to host a series of workshops at the Needham High School’s One Day program. 
  • Cooking For Kids, a weekly cooking activity for students learning life skills in substantially separate early learning classrooms at Sunita Williams. 
  • Sensory Pathways at Eliot and Mitchell, which will allow students to take movement breaks using academic visuals to release energy and sensory build up.. 
  • The addition to Broadmeadow, Eliot and Newman libraries of Vox Books — hardcover books with an integrated audio recording to help emergent and reluctant readers. 
  • Pedometers for each second grade classroom at Broadmeadow to reinforce math concepts such as graphing and place value, and to better understand real-life distances in geography units.
  • Mindfulness workshops for students and teachers in each cluster classroom at High Rock. 
  • Professional development for all K-5 math coaches and grade 6-12 math teachers with Sunil Singh, co-author of “Math Recess,” a book which emphasizes learning mathematics through play and as a means to provide equity to all students. 

Low-Ropes Challenge Course at Pollard

Funded by a large grant from the NEF, the Low-Ropes Challenge Course at Pollard features seven elements presenting meaningful physical and mental challenges to help students develop social and emotional skills.

Grant writer, Michael Marcojohn is excited to see this grant come to life. He wrote, “I have always had the dream to build a course and provide students with the same positive experience I once had. I cannot wait to provide students with such a different and unique experience. Students have been asking me since the first day of school about when they will be allowed to enjoy the course.”

On October 3, Pollard teachers were trained and certified on the low-ropes course. Students at Pollard will now be able to use the course to help create an inclusive and cooperative team atmosphere.

Far From The Tree – Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Sensory Pathways at Broadmeadow

The NEF funded two Sensory Pathways that were installed this month at Broadmeadow and they have already made a huge impact on the students and teachers, who were instantly mesmerized. These Sensory Pathways have given students opportunities to get their movement out.

The paths are located in the first-grade wing for the kindergarten, first and second graders to use, as well as on the ground level near the occupational therapy room. Each path is designed to change a child’s body position as he/she completes the course, focusing on academic visuals while moving the body in a specific order. By jumping, bouncing, bending, pushing, and breathing, students release their energy and sensory build-ups that impacts their ability to best utilize their brains.

Although teachers were initially worried about sending students to the paths independently, after a class lesson, they gave it a try. Teachers were pleasantly surprised at how responsible students were being when they asked to go on a sensory break. Broadmeadow families have enjoyed the videos shared by Principal Gaberman shared the videos in the school’s bulletin. Grant writer, Saundra Watson noted, “It has been amazing to see so many students reading the directions and following the movements and others following along by creating their own movements.”

Take a sneak peak at how Needham students are moving their bodies and putting the pathways to good use. Thank you to grant writer Saundra Watson for making this innovative grant come to life.

 

NEF Announces It Has Donated Over $3 Million to Needham Public Schools

At its 2nd annual Grant Awards Reception held on Monday, May 20 at the John Eliot School, Joanna Herrera, Co-President of the Needham Education Foundation (NEF), announced that the NEF just reached a landmark $3 million given in support of the Needham Public Schools. The $3 million has funded over 715 grants written by teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members through the NEF’s grant program.

The NEF raises funds and awards grants to promote innovation and excellence in education for Needham public school students. It seeks out and supports programs that are beyond normal and expected public funding, including leading-edge projects in math and science, languages and the arts, emerging technologies, social development, and more. Community members may submit grant proposals throughout the year. The NEF also collaborates on a larger scale with the Needham Public Schools Department.  For example, the foundation provided seed money for the Interdisciplinary Learning Initiative at Needham High School.

The NEF was founded in 1990 by a group of alumni from Needham High School who were celebrating their 50th class reunion. They parlayed a class gift of just $3,000 into a foundation that has now awarded more than $3 million in grant money.

“The Needham Education Foundation has been our partner in educational innovation and student learning. Not only does the NEF provide resources, they offer expertise, guidance, and perspective as they assist educators in the development of creative and exciting funding proposals. We are fortunate to live, learn, and work in a community with a partner like the NEF that values its children,” said Daniel Gutekanst, Superintendent of Needham Public Schools.

The Grant Awards Reception was attended by State Representative Denise Garlick, members of the Select Board and School Committee, and Bruce Johnstone–a founding member of the NEF.  The event recognized the teachers, administrators, parents and one student who had received grants during the 2018-19 school year. The grants awarded included engineering backpacks for kindergartners, a documentary screening about the challenges of educating students with differences, professional development opportunities, Spanish-language and Latino-experience literature, robotics equipment, and much more.

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