RANDOLPH, NJ - Randolph Schools received a grant through the Bosch Community Fund of $34,000 to pursue sustainability in all six district buildings. Once received, the Randolph Education Foundation matched and exceeded that grant by providing $54,000 for educators to build their "dream" of a class-sized greenhouse.
The Randolph Education Foundation made the initial contact when they met resident Jim Dagostino on the Randolph Rocks 5k committee. When Superintendent Jenn Fano heard of the opportunity, she pulled together several administrators to begin brainstorming proposal ideas.
The grant team represented teachers and administrators from all six buildings and grade levels including Leah Konikowski, Jenise Janulis, Mary Anne Smallwood, Laura Healy, Robert Chernow, Andrew Piascik, Brianne McBreen, Richard Eva, Katherine Thorn, Gabriel Maffei and Anthony Emmons.
“Inspired by the work of Elon Musk and Stephen Ritz we landed on the idea of horticulture and sustainability,” said Emmons, RHS STEM Supervisor. “We quickly learned, that we did not have to go far to find our interested parties at all levels.”
With the $34,000 from the Bosch Foundation, the team looks forward to installing hydroponic towers, aquaponic extensions, composting bins and even aeroponic components to complement the science programs throughout the district.
“Then we were asked to dream big, and our big dream was a classroom-sized greenhouse,” said Katherine Thorn, K-5 Supervisor. “We reached out to the REF and shared with them our big dream and they came back and gave us $54,000.”
The REF reached their 10th anniversary this year, “and we couldn't have wished for a better way to start this celebration,” Clark said.
“We believe that a critical role of the REF and its partnership with the district is to identify these kinds of funding sources in the corporate and philanthropic community that will enable the district to think big and create opportunities that provide impact for all our students and teachers in the district,” said REF President Margaret Clark.
The Randolph Education Foundation continues to strengthen partnerships with the mission of "harnessing the power of our community to create opportunities that inspire teachers to innovate and enable students to thrive," according to their website.
“This greenhouse classroom provides a key instructional setting for students to explore STEM concepts in a hands-on way,” Clark concluded.
Dagostino commented on the excitement within Bosch to fund this project, because they have never worked on a project combining STEM and sustainability.
“That number is a minimum really,” Dagostino said. “They want to see all the great things you’re doing. Hopefully, this is a start of something good.”
Fano and the team assured Dagostino they will have plenty of updates and data for Bosch as they continue to work on the project.
"With the resources provided by these grants, we hope to empower students through a wide range of authentic learning opportunities," Thorn said. “These real-world explorations will be inclusive of life science, ecology, earth science, community impact, environmental studies, culinary arts, business, marketing, entrepreneurship, engineering, and mathematics. Our overall goal is to cultivate a comprehensive community of wellness and sustainability.”