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WSSD Foundation Awards $15,000 in Grants

The Foundation for Wallingford Swarthmore Schools has awarded its fourth round of grants to teachers in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District (WSSD), funding special projects and teaching tools in technology such as iPads and Chromebooks, math, environmental science, computer science, graphic design, music, anti-bullying programs, and social development.

Teachers at all three WSSD elementary schools, Strath Haven Middle School and Strath Haven High School submitted a total of 31 grant applications, according to Foundation Grants Committee Co-Chair Barbara Briggs. “This year we saw some of the strongest grant applications we have ever seen. Particularly impressive were the grants involving collaboration among teachers across grades and across disciplines, as well as grants for technology that will have a significant positive impact on more vulnerable populations of students.” The Foundation granted over $15,000 to teachers at every school in the District.

Strath Haven High School

The Foundation made a grant of $4,466 to fund the first phase of a multi-teacher grant at Strath Haven High school, comprising Environmental Science, Math, Applied and Visual Arts, Health and Physical Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Computer Science, and Graphic Design and other disciplines. With funds from this grant, a wide range of students will learn to design, build and maintain a sustainable, positive, healthy source of food on the WSSD campus. Student clubs, including Green Haven and Haven Against Hunger, will also take part. Between 800 and 900 students will benefit from this grant. “This was a particularly compelling grant for the Foundation to fund given the wide range of students who will be impacted by it and the number of disciplines involved” explained Foundation Grants Committee Co-Chair Gianna Karapelou.

Strath Haven Middle School

The Foundation approved the funding of $500 for the implementation of an anti-bullying program for students in 7th and 8th grade that the guidance department is working on in collaboration with CHOP and Dr. Stephen Leff, an expert in the field of violence prevention. This grant impacts 600 students.   

The Technology Assisted Music Creativity grant involves music technology, particularly four iPad Airs, to give students access to create music in a more intuitive process, such as composing layers of sounds, rhythm loops, live acoustical sounds and recording and editing edit music compositions. This technology will provide students the opportunity in school to use technology in creative and artistic ways. This grant impacts 600 students and amounts to $1,912. 

The World Language Department grant involves six iPad minis for the world language department in the languages of Spanish, French, Mandarin, and German for a total of $1,794. By providing students in each grade with numerous daily opportunities to record themselves speaking the target language, the department may achieve that goal. In addition to recording their voices constantly, students, through access to the internet on the iPad minis, will be able to listen to and interact with authentic material that is set up for them through an array of websites identified as appropriate and effective tools by the world language teachers. The iPad minis would provide the world language department with a mobile language lab that is crucial in producing the language skills that students will need in our increasingly diverse country. This grant impacts 600 students.

The First Author program will have a significant positive educational impact as a pilot program involving the use of First Author Writing Software for use with the life skills learning support team for a total of $358. Writing is a difficult area for some students and many have had limited access to writing for physical, cognitive, communication, and instructional reasons. Technology is critical to help with access. First Author Writing Software helps teachers bring writing to students planning to take the alternate assessment—the 1 to 3 percent of students with complex instructional needs, including autism.  

Nether Providence Elementary School (NPE)

The NPE  2nd – 5th Grade Learning Support iPad Writing Project aims to put iPads into the hands of students in three NPE learning support classrooms at NPE for a total funding of $1,149. The teachers are interested in increasing the integration of tablet technology into their daily teaching practice. These teachers would like to pilot the use of Writing apps (i.e./ Dragon: Speaking Naturally) to motivate and facilitate students’ independent writing production in conjunction with the on-going Action Research Plan as part of the district Professional Growth Plan being implemented across the district this year. These iPads and writing apps will enable students to independently produce writing samples that effectively capture their thoughts and ideas and produce a copy that is ready for the editing process. 

Over 30 students in grades 3 – 5 will have the opportunity to use the Chromebooks in a manner that will expand the use of VLE’s and Cloud computing in school for a total funding of $900. Consistent student exposure to the Classlink VLE will further enable them to support their classmates as other teachers begin to implement Classlink with larger groups of students. Finally, it is important to note the future potential of piloting new technologies in this manner. With the support and collaboration of the District Technology Department, this pilot program will enable the District to further evaluate the efficacy of larger scale integration of Chromebooks at all educational levels across the District.

Swarthmore-Rutledge Elementary (SRS)

Music iPads will be used in the music education program as a creative and innovative approach to teaching music. Students will be able to listen to music and create their own pieces. All students K-5 will have access to the iPads. The Foundation is able to give $1,800 which will buy 5 iPads for the Music Department. 

The social skills grant will help students who are on the autism spectrum or who have Asberger's symdrome (currently 19 students) will use Legos to help improve collaboration, nonverbal communication and social skills for a total grant funding of $160. The grant will be used to purchase a Lego table and 2 buckets of bricks. 

The Peaceful School Bus Program is a school-wide program used to decrease inappropriate bus behavior and to increase respect and cooperation among school bus groups with a total funding of $119.  

Wallingford Elementary School

The Leo Leonni Rain Garden project is a project between Ms. Hole's first grade class and Ms. Kaplan's fourth grade class with a total funding of $750. It involves 41 students. Students will work with a classroom parent to design and plant a rain garden that will feature rock creatures inspired by the art and stories of Leo Leonni. 

The Title 1 iPads project will be implemented using iPads to enhance the literacy of developing readers in Title 1 reading support with a total funding of $848. This project involves the reading support students in grades K-3.

The Special Education iPads will allow WES special education teachers to use iPads for instruction and behavior reinforcement with a total funding of $468. The current number of students served by this project is 70 children.

“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 8, 2014), Arts4Smarts (which will be held on March 7, 2015), corporate sponsorships, United Way donations (donor code: 49418) and individual contributions” explained Foundation President Frannie Reilly. The Arts4Smarts Committee is currently seeking sponsors and donors. If interested, please visit our website http://arts4smarts.org

In addition to funding these teacher grants, the Foundation will continue to fund its current major initiative, the Classroom Libraries, in which the Foundation will 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 Project is $46,000 and the Foundation has provided the initial funding of $12,000. As part of the grant application process, the Grants Committee received several applications for classroom libraries.  It is the intent of the Foundation to continue funding these classroom libraries with funds raised through Arts4Smarts, this March 7, 2015.

 

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 supportwssd.org.