RANDOLPH, NJ– Eighty Randolph elementary school students had the opportunity to take part in a hands-on, creative summer pilot program called Summer S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) which was generously funded by a $12,500 grant from the Randolph Education Foundation (REF). Jenise Janulis and Michele Savvides, two elementary school teachers in the district, developed and proposed the program.
For two weeks, students from third to fifth grade came to Fernbrook School to for a chance to participate in creative projects in the areas of environmental science, math, technology, and visual and performing arts. Students participated in an array of exciting and interesting projects, including the creation of a 3-D wall mural with the guidance of art teacher Linda Schroll. “During these two weeks students have had more hours of art than they do during the whole school year and they loved it. Art is a great way to learn about life,” said Schroll.
Students interested in environmental science had the opportunity to work with Randolph High School teachers Laurie Terranova and Carlo Maucione. The school’s Outdoor Educational Center served as laboratory where grew herbs that were used in the preparation of the food served during the closing ceremony. They also created windmills using recycled materials and learned how to make “solar cookers” that they used to make a snack. “I’m accustomed to working with high school students. It was so refreshing and so inspiring to work with little kids. It was great and we did a lot,” said Terranova.
The Fernbrook Media Center hosted Savvides’ technology class, where students were able to use the technology of the computer lab and a small television production studio to create and produce a video and slide show that was presented to guests at the closing ceremony. “Students learned a lot in these two weeks, but my favorite part is seeing how they are building relationships, said Savvides. “Students from all four elementary schools get to know each other. That will really help the fifth graders when they go to middle school. Now they won’t be afraid because they have friends from other schools that they met here.”
Mrs. Janulis’ performing arts class performed a play entitled “Holka Polka.” Students were involved in every aspect of the production, including designing and crafting the scenography, creating their own costumes, and applying their own make-up. “I chose to do performing arts and I really liked it,” said Kelly Polsin, a fifth grader at Fernbrook School. “My favorite part was doing the costumes and the make-up, but we also got to do a lot of things for arts and science. It was really fun.”
“We are grateful to the Randolph Education Foundation for giving us the opportunity to do this program, said Summer S.T.E.A.M. program coordinator Jenise Janulis. “We really want to encourage people to look into the work that the Foundation does and support it. It is a real power house in our community.”
Janulis and Savvides received the funding for the program through the REF’s “Next Practices Grant” Program that supports new ideas that will spark the imaginations of 21st Century learners in our community. “The teachers presented a proposal that really impressed us in the way that it provided hands-on, creative, and innovative approaches to educating students”, said Francesca Lavin, REF Board Member and Next Practices Grant Chair.
“It was so exciting to see these teachers’ ideas come to life. The students really seemed to get a lot out of this fun and engaging educational program. Seeing programs like Summer S.T.E.A.M. succeed makes all of the fundraising efforts of the REF worth it!”
Student volunteers from Randolph Middle School and Randolph High School assisted staff in the classrooms. Deana Curis, Camilo Ferero, Kayla Heider, Ahsan Huland El, Gitanjali Lyer, Cali Janulis, Olivia Lofaro, Mary Luciano, Jessica Nodine, Nicole Nodine, Megan Pereira, Daniel Serna, Jonathan Serna, Ria Shahi, Manav Shahi, Alexandra Steinberg, Evelyn Teperman and Delane Tulin donated their time to support the teachers and help younger students.
Mrs. Janulis expressed gratitude to them and others who made the program possible: Ms. Dawn Naulbach, lunch and recess aid; Chef Irene Bergmann; Randolph School District Board of Education; Mrs. Lisa Gross and Mrs. Kristin Mueller, Principal and Vice Principal at Fernbrook Elementary School; and the custodian staff who supported the program on a daily basis.
Karen Polsin, mother of participant, Kelly Polsin, stated, “This was a terrific opportunity for the children in the Randolph School District to immerse themselves in the arts and sciences. The children and the teachers who devoted their time appeared to have a great time learning in a fine, hands-on environment. I hope the program returns next summer to continue offering students the opportunity to focus on core skills that otherwise can’t be developed during the school year.”
The Randolph Education Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable trust that provides alternative funding to support education and innovation in Randolph Township Public Schools. Launched in 2010, the REF relies on donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. These donations are directly applied to vital educational programming for Randolph children.