CRANFORD - The Cranford Fund for Educational Excellence (CFEE) has awarded more than $32,000 in grants to support a variety of educational innovations in the Cranford schools during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The grants will benefit students across the school district. The Cranford school board has formally accepted the grants, which are awarded to the teachers who applied for them.

CFEE, relaunched in 2014, is a nonprofit Cranford-based foundation that supports excellence and innovation in the Cranford public schools by generating resources through community involvement. This year, in consultation with the school district leadership, CFEE awarded grants in four categories in order to benefit larger groups of students across grade levels:

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  • Differentiated or personalized education

  • Technology integration and 21st-century skills

  • Innovation zones/makerspaces

  • Classroom design

“We would like to thank every one of the Cranford educators who applied for a grant this year,” said CFEE co-president Pete Turnamian. “We would also like to thank the school district’s leaders for their advice and input into this year’s process of awarding grants.”

“And, of course, thank you to everyone who has given in support of CFEE’s mission and made it possible to bring these exciting new resources to our students,” Turnamian added.

This year’s grant awards were made possible by CFEE’s third annual Trivia Night fundraiser held in February; by a back-to-school appeal sent to parents in September 2017; and by the generous donations of parents, community members, and businesses throughout the year.

“Every year, it becomes more and more apparent just how much this community cares about supporting its teachers and giving them every resource for challenging and inspiring their students,” CFEE co-president Corey Walsh said. “I speak for everyone at CFEE when I say how honored and grateful we are for all the support and enthusiasm that the Cranford community has shown for advancing our mission.”

The grants for the 2018-2019 academic year, divided by category, are as follows:


Collaboration Stations in the Middle School, Orange Avenue School: Standing desks, custom tables, and flexible seating will provide options for students of varying needs to collaborate at centralized work sites throughout the classroom. Desks can be shared across classrooms. This grant also falls under the classroom design category. (Christine Ross and Angelique Eimer, applicants)



Find Your Fitness, A Heart-Guided Fitness Program for Body and Mind, Orange Avenue School: More than 400 students will have access to heart monitors and will be able to use data to see how their physical activity aligns with their goals. (Suzette de Araujo, applicant)



Maker/STEAM/Innovation Spaces, Grades K-5 across six buildings: Makerspaces provide opportunities for independent learning, invention, exploration, and the mental stimulation that comes from working with one’s hands. (Sue Ritter, applicant)  

EV3 Robotics, Orange Avenue School: Seventh-grade applied technology students will gain two EV3 robots to add to the eight that were funded last year by CFEE. (Shannon Pena, applicant)

Lego EV3, Robotics in STEAM Education, Hillside Avenue School: Ten EV3 robots will be purchased for use by 200 to 225 students in grades seven and eight. (Kristen Girone, applicant)  

CO2 Dragster Race Track, Orange Avenue School: Eighth-grade applied technology students will draw on their study of aerodynamics to design, build, and race balsa-wood dragsters, using a kit that will allow for precise data collection. (Shannon Pena, applicant)



Increasing Mathematical Discourse and Perseverance through Classroom Design, Cranford High School: Round whiteboard tables will allow students to share information and strategies in small groups, and will also promote more mobility in the room. (Elizabeth Sheehan, applicant)  

Flexible Library Spaces, Cranford High School: Enhancements to the high school’s library will make it a more inviting space and foster more collaboration and cooperative learning. CFEE is partially funding this project as part of a long-range initiative. (Robin Melleno, applicant)  


Other grants to improve classroom design were awarded at the following schools:

Hillside Avenue School: Flexible seating and work stations for second-grade students (Angela Cerchio, applicant)

Cranford High School: Collaborative work stations for ninth-grade biology students (Julia Lewis, applicant); sit-to-stand desks, whiteboard tables, and small-group mini lesson tables for all students in German class and any other classes that share the same room (Denice Schmidt, applicant)

Bloomingdale Avenue School: Flexible seating for first-grade students in general education, resource rooms, and the media center (Karen Ferraioli, Mellisa Toddings, Ann Curtis, Greg D’Amato, applicants)

Walnut Avenue School: Collaborative round tables, wobble cushions, lap trays, and other furniture that fosters student engagement for approximately 90 first graders per year (Lauren Wilson, applicant); wobble chairs for 23 first graders, which allow for student movement during both structured and unstructured time, which have proven to increase focus without disruption (Erica Campbell, applicant)