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Foundation Awards Annual Teacher Grants

Foundation at School Board Meeting  

 
The Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools is pleased to announce that in its fifth year it has again awarded nearly $15,000 in grant money to teachers in the district who submitted outstanding grant applications. Foundation President Frannie Reilly presented a check to the Board of the Wallingford Swarthmore School District for $14,614.83 at the December 14th board meeting. Through the Teacher Grants, the Foundation will support a wide range of programs promoting excellence in the arts and sciences, as well as in physical and character education this year. The Grants Committee was particularly pleased to fund a large number of grants based upon innovative evidence-based programs, including the MINDSET Project at NPE, the MakerSpace Project at SRS and an experiential learning tool called “The Wild Side Kit” at Strath Haven Middle School. Other experiential learning programs include Foundation support for two garden projects, the Interdisciplinary Garden at Strath Haven High School, and a new garden at the recently renovated NPE building. The Mural Arts Project at WES will also be an experiential learning opportunity for fifth graders to leave a Legacy Mural at WES. The Foundation granted nearly $15,000 to teachers at every grade level and to every school in the District.

Continuing our support for the High School’s Interdisciplinary Garden, we have granted $3727.06 to the multi-disciplinary team of teachers to implement the next phase of the garden. Teachers will work with students on visual art design and installation including mosaic tiles, stepping stones, signage and a solar fountain for the meditation garden. The grant will also provide funds for compost bins and a mulched path.

The Foundation has awarded $2,300 for the Middle School’s special education, guidance and physical education teachers to purchase a “Wild Side Kit”. This kit can be used both indoors and outdoors to simulate and replace some of the experiences and activities that would normally take place on a low ropes course, providing physical team-building challenges. These challenges and the group reflections that follow are the basis for many learning sessions for both the R.A.I.S.E. Anti-Bullying program and for the Adventure Based Counseling program that are already in place at the Middle School.

The Foundation has granted $1,180 for the science department to purchase a classroom set of SMART Response XE portable devices, also known as “clickers”. Clickers increase student engagement, because they are fun and interactive and provide immediate feedback. It also quickly allows the teacher to assess learning by looking at overall scores for each question and helps the teacher target re-teaching for the most common misunderstandings. By funding clickers for the science department, we are replicating the successful grant that allowed the math department to purchase clickers and we are excited to see these technologies enhancing student engagement.

The Foundation will fund a Math Closet at SRS, granting $998.68 the creation of a math resource closet at SRS. Logic games, logic activities, and learning manipulatives will be stored in the closet. The math materials will be available to all teachers supporting differentiated instruction of over 600 kindergarten through fifth grade students at SRS. 


The Foundation has funded a Makerspace at SRS with a grant of $1,081.52 to fund various hands-on learning kits. Housed in the SRS library, it will be available to all students at SRS. The Makerspace materials offer students a chance to practice creating various types of circuits, to explore simple machines, and to see, first hand, many of the scientific concepts they have read about in class. Makerspace projects will grow students’ problem solving skills, which play such a major role in the Pennsylvania Core standards, in ways that do not feel like test preparation, but rather are authentic opportunities to research and learn.

The Foundation has also allocated $201.59 for the purchase of six additional scooters by the physical education department in order to accommodate increased class sizes, so that all kindergarteners can have the benefits of using the scooters for development of gross motor movements, coordination, spatial awareness, balance, and other components of fitness.

The Foundation has granted $1,500 for the Mural Arts Project at WES to create a legacy mural by the fifth grade class. The art teacher will identify an artist in residence. This artist will work with high school art students and fifth graders at WES to study and select the artistic inspiration for the legacy mural. The grant will also fund a field trip on the Mural Arts trolley tour in Philadelphia.

Again extending the impact of a successful grant from a previous year, the Foundation has granted $564.48 for the purchase of two additional iPads, so that each Learning Support class at WES will have two iPads. 

The Foundation has granted $500 toward the purchase of the Scholastic Guided Reading Program for the reading specialists and special education teachers at WES. The guided reading library will be used during small group literacy instruction in the primary grades (K-2). The Scholastic Guided Reading Program contains high-quality leveled texts and supports the customization of instruction to help all students become strategic and independent readers who love to read. Guided reading is a research-based methodology and is an efficient way to ensure that students achieve reading proficiency. It is a vital component of reading instruction because it provides flexibility to reach struggling readers at their level and support their skill development.

The Foundation awarded $1,323 for the first phase of an ambitious new garden at NPE, which will replace the garden that had to be removed for the renovation of the building. The garden will have eight beds: one each for art, the after school club and each grade (K-5). The garden is intended to become an environmental teaching source. Learning in the garden will be part of the art, science and STEM curriculum.

The Foundation also granted $609.50 for the MINDSET Project. Teachers will work with fifth-grade students from the Learning Support and Gifted Support classrooms together in a series of evidence-based lessons and activities designed to help raise awareness of brain mindsets and promote the development of a Growth Mindset. According to the groundbreaking research of Carol Dweck, students who believe that they learn more when they are challenged and making mistakes have a Growth Mindset, and this learning style can be cultivated in all learners.  The Foundation’s grant also will make the Mindset activities available to fifth graders in the regular education classrooms.

In addition, the Foundation awarded $629 for the Librarian to acquire an iPad that will to provide more flexibility and mobility to the librarian in helping students select just the right book. Books can also be checked out from anywhere in the library using a free app, and they can also be used by students.

The Foundation is able to fund these major projects through successful fundraisers such as the Panther Pajama Run and Pancake Breakfast (which was held this year on November 7, 2015), Arts4Smarts (which will be held on March 5, 2016), corporate sponsorships, United Way donations (donor code: 49418), and individual contributions.  The Arts4Smarts Committee is currently seeking sponsors and donors. If interested, please visit our website arts4smarts.org.

In addition to funding these teacher grants, the Foundation will continue to fund its current major initiatives: the High School Interdisciplinary Garden, the Middle School Multi-Media Studio, and the Elementary Schools Robotics and Programming Project. It is the intent of the Foundation to continue funding these major initiatives with funds raised through Arts4Smarts, this March 5, 2016.

The Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools is an independent nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization that supports innovation and excellence in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. Through community support and involvement, the Foundation works in partnership with all of Wallingford-Swarthmore School District funding partners to strengthen Wallingford-Swarthmore School District schools from elementary through middle and high school levels. With increasing pressure on school funding, the Foundation’s goal is to provide both a mechanism for community engagement with our schools and a funding stream for innovative programs and student enrichment which might otherwise fall to budget cuts. If you would like to learn more about the major projects, teacher grants and the Foundation, and get involved as a supporter or a member, please visit supportwssd.org.