To promote advancement in Rutherford’s academics, the Rutherford Education Foundation and the Thom Casadonte Scholarship granted funds to teachers and staff all across Rutherford’s school district for various workshops, activities, and supplies.
Teachers accept these funds for the 2018-2019 school year. According to the school district, “The grant funds from the Rutherford Education Foundation were in the total amount of $55,243.11 (REF $52,094 and the Thom Casadonte Scholarship $3,149.11).”
Funds are granted to support new and continuing programs for Washington Elementary, Pierrepont Upper Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Union Middle School, and Rutherford High School.
Recently, teachers Jay Faigenbaum and Ana Capria at the kindergarten center received a grant for “Electronic Learning Devices to Support Differentiated Skill Practice” which will let students use a variety of devices to master basic skills, such as phonics, spelling, sight words, and math skills. Some examples are Hot Dots, Math Sharks, Math, and Word Whiz.
This year, all the elementary schools in Rutherford, including Pierrepont, Lincoln, and Washington, received a grant for “Music First Junior” which is headed by Kristen Boyer and Connie DeFazio. This program will allow students to use an online experience to learn music theory, write music and enhance playing opportunities for the recorder.
Washington Elementary School received grants for programs such as “Building Intelligence with iPads,” sensory items, “Science Writing Success,” “Make Learning Stick,” “Learning With Legos,” and “A Community of Readers.” “Building Intelligence with iPads” and sensory items are programs and tools led by Morgan Deming and Ilona Szewczyk respectively for ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Kindergarten and Pre-K students at Washington. The program Deming is leading will allow students to use ABCya on iPads, paid on a monthly subscription, on a weekly basis to practice previously learned material. The grant given to Szewczyk will simply purchase sensory toys and needed supplies for the Pre-K special needs students. “Science Writing Success” is a program proposed by Meghan Gordon for second graders with LLD (Learning Language Disabilities) and to provide some context; framing one’s thoughts is part of the Project Read curriculum which is already being used in the class. It will help to use a multisensory approach to encourage students to write complete sentences. “Make Learning Stick” is a program that will be used by students in the second grade and was proposed by Wendy Rossiter. The goal of this grant is to encourage students to challenge themselves to answer difficult questions by using a variety of sticky hands-on materials such as dry erase tape and markers, wiki sticks and highlighter tape. “Learning With Legos” is intended for third-grade gifted & talented students at both Washington School and Lincoln School. Teacher Jennifer Augusterfer planned this program so that the students will use the We DO 2.0 Core Set to develop an interest in STEM activities such as coding at varying levels of difficulty. “A Community of Readers” was proposed by Rachel Mejias and Laura Clossey, and their inspiration came from Little Free Libraries, first built by Todd H. Bol, which are freestanding cupboards holding books. The goal of this grant is to build a Little Free Library outside of Washington School. Children will donate books they no longer need and borrow new titles to promote reading and community interaction and responsibility.
Edward Guy at the Bulldog Academy, recently opened by Rutherford Public Schools and located at the Rutherford Public Library, received funds for “Enhanced Learning for Special Needs.” Students are transitioning into adults and this program helps to keep them in town. A SMARTBoard will be provided for their new space to help with multi-sensory lessons and interactive activities.
Funded programs at Pierrepont Elementary School include “Grammar Flip” led by Shaun Bach, “Simple Machines STEM Lab” led by Jessica Saxon, and “Yoga For Classrooms” led by Brianne Mahoney. “Grammar Flip” is an online program for students to practice their grammar skills and the teacher can use the data to guide instruction. The grant for “Simple Machines STEM Lab” will purchase simple machine kits to be used in STEM classes. Students will use learned skills and apply them with an engaging Rube Goldberg design. The goal of “Yoga For Classrooms” is to provide simple, cost-effective, sustainable solutions for improving student wellness. The bulk of the grant is for a day in residency where a trained Y4C teacher comes in and trains students and teachers in an interactive introduction to yoga and mindfulness.
Lincoln Elementary received a grant for the program “Active Seating for Active Learning” headed by Elizabeth Freitag. The goal of this grant is to offer alternative seating and workspaces for students. The concentration cushions allow students to move around while working, which studies have shown help with concentration and stamina.
At Union Middle School, the REF granted funds for tools and programs such as student recognition awards, “Steam Team Robotic Kit and Parts,” “Grammar Flip.com,” “Loving To Read In Spanish,” “Virtual Reality Meets Middle School,” “Flexible Seating,” and “Steam Team Robotic Sensors & Microprocessors.” In terms of the student recognition awards, led by Adriana Serrao, New Jersey Positive Behavior Support in School provides positive interventions to improve behavior in school. The cost will cover the “Kick Off” for the weekly/monthly/yearly rewards and incentives which will vary. The grant for “Steam Team Robotics and Steam Team Robotics Parts,” granted to Bill Helpingstine, will help to purchase one Vex IQ robot kit and extra parts to help continue the Union Middle School Robotics Team in competitions. GrammarFlip.com, led by Meghan Collins, is an online program used by students to practice their grammar skills. “Loving To Read In Spanish” with Assunta Smith and Nadia Alvarado will be teaching languages through TPRS – “Teaching Proficiency Through Reading Storytelling.” The students will use the texts to read independently in Spanish in order to improve their language skills. Louise Hetzel is in charge of “Virtual Reality Meets Middle School,” and students can create and take a virtual field trip. Students will research the topics and create virtual reality experiences. Lawry Stein received a grant for “Flexible Seating” and the goal of this project is to provide flexible seating options for students. Flexible seating allows students to move around while working, which studies have shown helps with concentration and stamina. Finally, a grant was given to Bill Helpingstine to have students learn to use the microprocessors of the Arduino and the computing capabilities of the Raspberry Pi. These can be combined and put on the drones (previously purchased by the REF), and the students will learn how to develop sensors and write code.
Finally, teachers at Rutherford High School were granted funds for programs and supplies like “Women in Stem” led by Stephanie Curtis and Margaret Nastasi, “Heroes & Cool Kids” led by Nick DeBari, “Read Across Rutherford” led by Michael Stracco and Margaret Nastasi, “Publishing Children’s Books Through Illustory Kits” led by Melissa Dougard, “Parenting in the Digital Age and Media Awareness” led by Lauren Buckley, and wall padding in the 230 Gym.
“Women in Stem” will allow RHS females interested in STEM to attend workshops at Liberty Science Center and turnkey ideas to middle school girls. “Heroes & Cool Kids” will be run the same as in past years, and “Read Across Rutherford” will involve students from the RHS public speaking class, as well as members of the Future Teachers of America club, who will visit elementary schools on Read Across America Day to read and celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
“Publishing Children’s Books through Illustory Kits” is a successful repeat grant from last year and will let RHS students write and illustrate books to become published authors. “Parenting in the Digital Age and Media Awareness” is an hour-and-a-half presentation by Melissa Straub that will help both parents and students with coping and understanding cyberbullying and Internet safety. Lastly, David Frazier accepted funding for wall padding in the 230 Gym of the Rutherford High School which will benefit physical education classes as well as athletic and community programs.
Through grant funds like these, teachers of the Rutherford School District are enabled to further students’ involvement in their academics and completely transform what education means to Rutherford in terms of opportunity and change.
Article by Mary Ahn