Education

Summit Educational Foundation Will Fund Nearly Half of Proposed Middle School-Based District Greenhouse Project as Part of Nearly $450,000 in Fall Grants

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SUMMIT, NJ—The Summit Board of Education, at its December workshop session, voted unanimously to accept $449,616 in fall grants from the Summit Educational Foundation (SEF), the largest of which will go to fund a substantial portion of a proposed Summit Public Schools District-wide greenhouse program that would be located at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS).

Since the fall of 2010, the SEF has awarded nearly $3,500,000 in grants.

During a presentation on the SEF fall grants program at the workshop meeting, Foundation grants chairwoman Amy D’Andrea announced the group would provide $335,600 towards the greenhouse structure, equipment and training to “encourage development of STEAM activities in curricula as well as various activities district-wide in grades PK-12. Curriculum integration will be interdisciplinary, beginning with science and electives.”

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Although the original projected cost of the greenhouse program was estimated at about $1 million, Superintendent of Schools June Chang -- who was part of a four-person group that applied for the grant -- said at the meeting that more recent estimates have placed the tab at about $800,000.

The District hopes to raise the funds needed to design, build and operate the greenhouse through a combination of private funding and grants, Chang noted, “and right now we are more than halfway to our goal.”

SEF fall grants, numbering 40 with the greenhouse grant, also included funding for the following projects:

  • $15,000 for teacher leadership training that will enable Ellie Drago-Severson to work with two cohorts of district teacher leaders “in order to give them a research-based, collegiate experience with cutting edge leadership experience” to continue to district’s teacher training program and empower teachers and “catalyze their positive work in the schools.”
  • Three evening programs -- funded for a total of $14,872 -- that will enable elementary school students and their parents to participate in hands-on, activity-oriented problem solving situations in team settings in science and mathematics and complete technology activities similar to the typical technology activities that occur throughout the school year.
  • $12,600 for “engagement and efficiency node chairs” in the Washington School third grade to offer mobile and flexible chairs, desks and workspaces.
  • A professional development library, funded for $1,260, in the first to fifth grades at Franklin School to provide 50 book to enable educators to access both “foundational classics of best teaching practices and research” and “current texts that reflect new research findings and progressive teaching practices and strategies.”
  • $10,000 for a District-wide author visit by Dan Gutman, for those in the first to fifth grades, with three presentations in each of the five elementary schools.
  • An audio amplification system -- to be funded for $1,283 -- for the second grade classroom at Lincoln-Hubbard School to increase students’ ability to understand the spoken word, listen to the teacher and listen to each other.
  • $6,000 for the “Play and Write with Story Pirates” in the Lincoln-Hubbard second grades -- a series of five one-hour in-class writing workshops per class wherein teachers will work with teaching artists to design a curriculum that meets the needs of the school’s writers, ending with children’s stories performed by the Story Pirates.
  • $2,861 for a mentor program for 18 to 20 economically disadvantaged students at LCJSMS to be matched with mentors based on their needs, interests and availability. They will meet with their mentors every other week throughout the school year and attend the YMCA Junior Leaders Club under the supervision of Summit YMCA Teen Director Julie Wagenblast.
  • $8,080 for “Beyond the Bell,” an after school studies program at the middle school for a targeted group of seventh and eighth grade students identified by teacher as needing help with homework and organization. The program, for those with a 504 plan or Individual Learning Plan who need additional support, will also help with study skills and long-term planning and supplemental work teachers will provide.
  • $3,213 for the purchase of a Collaborative Digital Library at the high school -- six 32-inch flat screen televisions mounted on portable carts used throughout the library and school. Included on the cart would be cables to connect their Chromebooks. They could be used by students in study hall, during lunch, after school or with teachers and at the end of existing library tables to enable students to collaborate on projects with teachers in groups.
  • $6,220 for a Student Ambassador Program for Latino and English Language Learner students, in the sixth to 12th grades ,dedicated to the positive promotion of Summit High School and the middle school and having the ambassadors be positive role models to new and current students.
  • A $500 grant will fund the visit of “Hamilton” drummer Andres Forero to share his talent and experiences with band, orchestra and chorus members in the ninth to 12th grades.
  • An $1,800 grant will fund “Shakespeare All Day,” a Shakespeare LIVE! performance of Julius Caesar in the morning to all ninth graders followed by a brief question and answer period with the performers. In the afternoon, a selection of up to 150 ninth-to-12th grader will attend five concurrent workshops that will focus upon textual analysis, dramatic speaking exercises and theatrical techniques related to Shakespeare and performing in general.

On another matter, Board president David Dietze announced that the deadline for all children who wished to apply for the district’s tuition-based, Full-Day kindergarten (FDK) program was December 15 at 4 p.m.

Dietze added that the drawing for spots in the FDK classes would be held at 1 p.m. on December 16.

He noted those applying must be Summit residents and students must be five years old by October 1, 2017.

Also at the workshop meeting, education committee chairwoman Debra McCann announced that every student in the fifth to 12th grades now has access to District-supplied technology, with Chromebooks for all in the fifth and six grades and the ninth to 12th grades.

She added those in the seventh and eighth grades will continue to used IPads until they reach high school and then they will switch to Chromebooks. McCann said district technology director Douglas Orr reports the students love the use of the technology and teachers like the fact that students all have access to same devices. Board communications chairwoman Debbie Chang complemented the school staff on the fact that devices were successfully distributed to all affected students by October 10.

In another, official action at the meeting, the board voted to approve an agreement with EnerNOC, Inc. of Boston that would provide the district with the ability to engage in an energy service auction to bid on reduced energy costs to go into effect when its current contracts expire.

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