Innovative School District Programs Funded By The Foundation For Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools
On Monday, May 12, 2014, Frannie Reilly, president of the Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools, presented a check in the amount of $25,000 to the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Board on behalf of the Foundation. The funds are being presented to the School Board as a result of a very successful Arts4Smarts fundraiser and will be used to fund innovative programs in the District.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools, a 501(c)(3) education foundation established to support innovation and excellence in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, successfully raised $40,000 from its annual Arts4Smarts fundraising event. “This was a tremendous community event that drew support from across the district” explained Arts4Smarts co-chair Beth Ross. Over 250 people attended the event to show their support of the programs that the Foundation is funding and, through the BidPal technology that the Foundation used for its silent auction, individuals were able to also participate by bidding from home.
As a result of this successful fundraiser, the Foundation Board unanimously voted to fully fund its Middle School Robotics Program. The comprehensive Middle School Robotics Program will build on the success of the Strath Haven High School Robotics Team. Research has shown that early exposure to robotics helps students build an interest in STEM topics, which are crucial to today’s scientific literacy. Through teacher grants, the Foundation has also funded a fifth grade robotics program and then funded a pilot robotics program in the fourth grade. The success of these programs led to the need to establish a robust middle school robotics program. The total cost to fund the Middle School Robotics Program is $30,000 and the Foundation provided the initial funding of $10,000 in June 2013. Following the success of Arts4Smarts, the Board voted to fund the remaining $20,000 to complete the funding of this program.
The Board also voted to reserve $15,000 for its next cycle of teacher and classroom grants through its Teacher Grant Program, which provides grants to teachers in all of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District schools. In its third cyle of grants for the 2013-2014 year, the Foundation funded special projects and teaching tools in technology, math, reading and literacy, the arts, and physical and social development.
With the remaining $5,000 raised through Arts4Smarts, the Board is currently working in conjunction with the School District’s Office of Curriculum and Education to fund a DNA Technology Initiative in the high school. The science department has developed a very strong biotechnology program during the last 10 years. The DNA Technology Initative will expand access to DNA sequencing and analysis technology to our 10th grade biology program. Knowledge of DNA technology has become indispensable for basic biological research, and in numerous fields of applied science, such as biotechnology, forensic biology, and biological systematics. In addition, the Keystone exam contains questions that are directly related to DNA fingerprinting analysis and this equipment is essential for the students to understand these questions.
The Foundation is also working to fund and improve classroom libraries in grades 3-6 throughout the district. The Classroom Libraries Intiative underscores the critical role daily exposure to literature plays in the lives of our children. Research has shown the benefits of providing students with a literacy-rich environment, which includes a diverse, differentiated and well-stocked classroom library. Access to quality texts in a variety of genres improves students’ reading skills and provides students with options of engaging reading materials, and helps them develop a lifelong love of reading. The Foundation has begun to fund collections of books in classrooms to allow for differentiation in the language arts classrooms, ensuring that every child has access to books appropriate for his or her reading level and interest. The Classroom Libraries project will help teachers to successfully institute “book clubs,” “reading workshops,” and “literature circles” in classrooms. The total cost to fund the Classroom Libraries Initiative is $46,000 and the Foundation has provided the initial funding of $12,000 and formed a development committee to apply for grants for this project.
The Foundation is able to fund these major projects through successful fundraisers such as the Panther Pajama Run and Pancake Breakfast, Arts4Smarts, corporate sponsorships, United Way donations (donor code: 49418) and individual contributions. Foundation Vice President Brooke Penders stated that “it is through the support of our sponsors, donors, and attendees of Arts4Smarts that the Foundation is able to invest $40,000 in the district.”
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 our website at http://supportwssd.org/