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CFEE Awards Grants to Support Innovation in the Cranford Public Schools

Ukuleles for fourth- and fifth-graders, funded by a CFEE grant last year, will be supplemented with a storage cart and new teaching materials. Credits: Chris Gosier
The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence has awarded nearly $23,000 in grants to fund innovative classroom projects in the Cranford public schools for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence has awarded nearly $23,000 in grants to fund innovative classroom projects in the Cranford public schools for the 2017-2018 school year. The grants will bring new resources to students at all levels—from kindergarten through high school—and across subjects, from science and literacy to math and music. 

The Board of Education formally accepted the grants on June 12, and they will be awarded directly to the teachers who applied for them earlier this year. This is the third annual round of awards since the 2014 relaunch of the CFEE, a Cranford-based nonprofit foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating additional resources through community involvement. 

“Since 2014, we have been delighted to see how enthusiastically the Cranford community has embraced and supported CFEE’s renewed efforts. All of the thoughtful, creative ideas reflected in this year’s grant applications show, once again, how deeply Cranford’s teachers care about doing the utmost to challenge and inspire their students,” CFEE co-president Pete Turnamian said. “We thank everyone who made the effort to apply for a grant.”

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All grant funding comes from Cranford residents, businesses, and organizations. This year’s grant awards were made possible by the CFEE’s second annual Trivia Night fundraiser in February, which raised more than $20,000, and by a Back to School appeal sent to parents in September.

The CFEE received 30 grant applications and made 12 grant awards, working with applicants and the school district to make sure funds would be spent in a strategic and effective manner that was aligned with the district’s mission. In addition, alternative solutions were found within the district and community that may accomplish the goals of several applicants who were not awarded funding. 

“We thank the school district leadership for their partnership, and we thank everyone who contributed to CFEE over the past year,” CFEE co-president Corey Walsh said. “New, creative classroom methods are critical for preparing students for our rapidly changing world, and we are thrilled to see that the Cranford community so readily supports this vital work.” 

The grants awarded funding are as follows: 

The Creative Mindset Literary Project. Orange Avenue School. Applicant: Thais Jackson. Sixth-graders will develop and publish their literary works and present them at a book release event. 

PebbleGo Database Subscription. Bloomingdale Avenue, Brookside Place, Hillside Avenue, and Walnut Avenue schools. Applicant: Arline McCloskey. This is the second CFEE grant providing access to this database, which uses videos, read-along audio, and other supports to help all the district’s K-2 students build literacy skills and learn about social studies and science. 

Intergenerational Book Study. Applicant: Jennifer Hilborn. Cranford High School. Students in grades 9 through 12 will meet with school staff and community members after school to discuss five texts having to do with privilege as a way to build empathy for challenges facing other people. 

Ellison Starter Set. Cranford High School. Applicant: Lisa Williams. The multiple disabilities class will use this letter- and shape-cutting tool—which they can manipulate with little assistance—for making posters and other crafts for use around the high school, learning a skill in the process. 

Middle School Band Instruments. Hillside Avenue School. Applicant: A.J. Falisi. Outdated band instruments, some of them more than 50 years old, will be replaced with new equipment to meet the needs of the growing music program and allow for more challenging lessons. 

Robots. Orange Avenue School. Applicant: Shannon Pena. Older robot kits used by third- through seventh-graders will be replaced by newer, better models to support robotics education, which integrates math, programming, and engineering. 

We Do Need STEAM! Livingston Avenue School. Applicant: Kimberly Scutieri Crowder. LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 sets will help students develop problem-solving and other skills by making challenging STEAM topics (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) more approachable. 

3D Printer. Orange Avenue School. Applicants: Marc Edery, Shannon Pena. A 3D printer will be used to build STEAM and computer science/design skills schoolwide. 

Junior Birdwatchers. Walnut Avenue School. Applicant: Judy Grogan. Second-graders will use binoculars, field guides and other supplies to learn to distinguish various bird species from one another. 

Sensory Diet. Hillside Avenue School. Applicant: Yvette Andriola. This personalized activity plan will help regular and special-education students in grades K-8 improve focus, attention, postural control, and self-regulation. 

Ukuleles 2.0. Livingston Avenue School. Applicant: Colleen McDonald. Ukuleles for fourth- and fifth-graders, funded by a CFEE grant last year, will be supplemented with a storage cart and new teaching materials.

Flexible Seating/Personalized Learning. Bloomingdale Avenue, Hillside Avenue, and Orange Avenue schools, and Cranford High School. The school district will allocate a grant among six applicants, each of whom sought funding for chairs, tables, books, or other materials to improve classroom design and foster more personalized learning.

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