• Washington Township Education Foundation Awards
    39 Mini-Grants Totaling in Excess of $30,000


    WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – The Washington Township Education Foundation (WTEF), with the approval of the Board of Education, has agreed to award 39 mini-grants that will finance a number of supplemental programs throughout the Washington Township Public Schools during the 2015-16 school year. The grants, which this year total $30,257.50, are awarded based on a committee recommendation following a review of all applications.

     The WTEF is an independent, community-based, non-profit organization which seeks to set an example of community involvement in and support for the Washington Township Public Schools. The Foundation seeks to assist the school district by securing private-sector resources and community support for (1) enhancing the educational experiences of students; (2) preparing students for higher education and the world of work; and (3) other purposes for which public funding is not available.

     In its 14 years of awarding mini-grants, the WTEF has contributed more than $222,000 toward enhancing the educational experiences of the District’s students. Ambitious fund-raising ventures, including an annual golf outing, have resulted in more than $480,000 in donations to the school district since the WTEF’s formation in 1997. These monies have funded such worthwhile projects as a dance studio and an art gallery at Washington Township High School, the creation of a greenhouse at Bunker Hill Middle School and countless virtual field trips for District children.

     "These mini-grants supply the teacher with that little extra to really make a project fun and educational at the same time,” WTEF President Charlie Doud said. “Where budget dollars may not exist, or may be less than needed, the mini-grants augment that budget bucket, giving the children a chance to experience learning in a way that otherwise would have not been possible due to financial constraints."

     The following schools and programs are the 2015-16 grant recipients:

    Bells Elementary School: Budding Book Buddies (Lead teachers: Suzie Brennan and Kelly DeLizza)

    Students in second and fourth grade will work collaboratively through the writing process to create two separate, published pieces based on the same theme on their grade level. Students will use the website tikatok.com to write, illustrate and publish their original stories into professional-quality books. Completed books will be shared during an Author's Tea before being displayed in the school library.

    Bells Elementary School: Fact Families in a Flash (Lead teachers: Rose Twardzik and Melissa Hermley)   

    The "Minute Math Electronic Flash Card" is a game that looks like the familiar fact family triangle, but is reinterpreted in an appealing electronic format that is developed to actively engage students. The device provides positive visual and auditory corrective feedback, and can be used by students individually or in group math center activities that are independent or teacher-directed. This project is intended to inspire and encourage students to actively participate in math fact practice by using a new mode of technology.

    Bells Elementary School: The Master Builder’s Workshop (Lead teacher: Rich Herzog)      

    This grant will allow for the purchase of building materials that groups of four students will work cooperatively to build into finished products. Students will develop interpersonal skills, working together as a group to gather materials, read directions, and to develop interdependent strategies to complete a common project with a common goal in mind.

    Bells Elementary School: Perfect Pairs (Lead teacher: Kelly DeLizza)    

    Grants funds will allow for purchase fiction and non-fiction books that pair well together. Many students enjoy different types of books and learn in different ways. As such, book pairing with non-fiction and fiction is a great way to introduce concepts. Students draw connections and retain more information, and teachers "sneak in" science and social studies instruction into the literature curriculum.    

    Bells Elementary School: Reading with the Stars (Lead teacher: Sandra Paredes) 

    With the endowment of this grant, students will be able to examine the work of noteworthy contemporary authors across multiple examples of their texts. Students will become familiar with how these authors structure their texts and use figurative language to enhance their narratives.                                                                         

    Bells Elementary School: Time to Get Real (Lead teacher: Sandra Paredes) 

    This project will benefit the high readers in grades 1 and 2, allowing for purchase of books whose topics support the growth of interest in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). These materials will encourage interest and knowledge in areas often underemphasized in conventional reading programs. All books are non-fiction selections and are published by Time for Kids.                  

    Birches Elementary School: Art in History: 15th New World Basin (1484-1504) (Lead teacher: Mary Byatt)

    Students will learn about Christopher Columbus and the "discovery" of the New World, as grant money will fund the purchase of Art in History's replicas of Spanish Lusterware basins. Spanish luster comes from a pottery style that developed in the Middle East. Each student will receive a kit containing the pottery piece, paint brush, sponge, disposable paint pallets and paint. This project will enhance the fifth-grade study of exploration and the Columbian Exchange.

    Birches Elementary School: Jammin’ in the Jungle (Lead teacher: Ruth Pelphrey)

    This project will take all second-grade students on a musical adventure into the jungle of a tropical rain forest. Students will examine the importance of rain forests in our world and will explore some of the animals and plants that thrive in these areas. Activities will include singing, playing percussion instruments, learning rhythm patterns, and creative dancing to fun jungle beats.

    Birches Elementary School: Jazzing it up with the Harp (Lead teacher: Lisa Sebastiani)

    This musical assembly with a live harpist will help teach students the history of the harp, as well as the style of jazz music. A saxophonist and double bassist also will perform in this jazz trio. Students will learn more about the cultural and historical aspects of the arts, and they can react in response to a creative performance while learning about various cultures that used the harp and how the harp has been added to more modern styles, such as jazz.      

    Birches Elementary School: Light and Liberty in Old City Philadelphia (Lead teacher: Mary Byatt)

    Students will research and learn about the different patriotic sites in Old City, using a white paper bag to create a 3-dimensional picture "Bag Book." Pages in the "Bag Book" will include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Students will create arts and crafts projects reflecting patriotic images including Liberty Bells made from model magic, Constitution bracelets made from pipe cleaners and beads, Preamble booklets, Bill of Rights scrolls, and an eternal flame made from egg cartons and tissue paper.

    Birches Elementary School: New Student Welcome Packet (Lead teachers: Mary Jo Babiowski and Christine Frassenei)

    Funds will be used to purchase grade-level-appropriate books as a gift for new students, highlighting the value placed upon reading. The goal is to enable students to enjoy reading and prepare to become a part of our Birches reading community. Reading teachers will check in with the students to discuss the book and how they are transitioning into the new school.

    Birches Elementary School: Remembering Our Veterans (Lead teachers: Angelina Nelson and Jennifer Scancella)

    Remembering our Veterans is a project where students will make and sell bracelets. Students will use their knowledge of financial literacy to set up a business plan with the profits supporting local veterans, planning and advertising when they are going to sell their bracelets to the school.

    Bunker Hill Middle School: BHMS Digital Yearbook (Lead teachers: Lori McEntee and Corinne Dowdell)

    Funds will be used to purchase software and equipment to create iMovie DVDs with photos taken for the yearbook and newspaper make it to the final printing. By using iMovie and burning the photos to DVDs, the discs will be made available for purchase, with proceeds used to purchase more camera and video equipment so the program can be self-sustaining.           

    Chestnut Ridge Middle School: Authors and Artists Bring Literature to Life (Lead teacher: Linda Martins)

    Grant funds will allow students to meet and work with an author/illustrator, helping them understand how "ordinary" people can work to make a dream become reality, inspiring them to write their own stories, and validating reading and writing skills taught in the classroom. Students can expand their world view and become motivated to read, write and illustrate their own stories. The author will conduct an art lesson to teach the students how to illustrate.

    Chestnut Ridge Middle School: Ever Wonder Why People Like You? (Lead teachers: Karen Defranco, Tom Woodson and Maryann Kwietkowski)

    Seventh-grade students will read the novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio and, through class discussions, discover how we affect the people around us in positive and negative ways. This book directly supports the character education program at CRMS, and it will be a catalyst for discussions about developing friendships and valued relationships regardless of physical appearance.

    Grenloch Terrace Early Childhood Center: Auricolae: Fairy Tales, Folklore and Fables (Lead teacher: Lisa Sebastiani)

    Funds will allow for professional musicians to visit the school for a live performance and music and dramatic reading of fairy tales from around the world. The objective is for children to understand the aesthetic, emotional and thematic role of music in the telling of stories. Students should gain an increased appreciation for other cultures through their unique folklore. Students also will see performance techniques that can be used on string instruments to produce interesting sounds, while learning how music reflects themes in the story through the use of sound effects.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Data Days (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Chris Redwanowski, Staci Wagner)

    Numbers are all around us and we can work with them to learn about our world. Students will participate in a variety of number-gathering activities throughout the year. From this data, they will analyze what this information means and how it is related. Students also will be able to create their own visual interpretations of this data and present it to an audience.

    Hurffville Elementary School: First Graders Take the Author’s Chair (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Chris Redwanowski, Staci Wagner)

    This project is an opportunity for students to incorporate all of the writing skills they have learned during the first half of the school year to create a writing piece similar to that of a “published” author. Students will experience the process an author takes from the initial writing of a story to ultimately producing it in a completed book format.                                              

    Hurffville Elementary School: Fractions are Fun (Lead teacher: Lynda Venuto)

    Fractions involve a complexity of concepts. This project will enhance instruction by using manipulatives, which are crucial in developing students' understanding of fraction ideas. The hands-on, interactive set will help students construct mental references that will enable them to perform fraction tasks meaningfully.                                                

    Hurffville Elementary School: I&RS and 504 (Lead teacher: Larissa Fanning)

    Students who are referred to the I&RS team have been identified with either academic or behavioral concerns; 504 students have a disability that substantially limits a major life function (one of which could be learning). Funds provided will be used to purchase fidgets to hold, foot-band fidgets for chairs, weighted lap pads, and special disks for seats to help with remaining seated to benefit students with difficulties with inattention/hyperactivity.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Read with Me (Lead teacher: Christina Seiler)

    "We Both Read" is an innovative program that will involve parents in reading with their children. This program provides materials that make it fun for parents to get involved in helping the students improve fluency and reading scores. Each short reading book is designed for the parent to read a page and then the child to take a turn. The child's page is matched to the child's reading level. Many parents of autistic children are frustrated because they don't know how to help their child. This program reduces that frustration and makes reading fun. The desired result is for students to increase their reading fluency, stamina, non-fiction comprehension, and make real world connections with their parent.

    Hurffville Elementary School: The Reading Race (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Chris Redwanowski, Staci Wagner)

    The Reading Race challenges first-graders to Read, Read, Read. This program will help tie together many of the reading components of first grade including, but not limited to, guided reading, Accelerated Reader, and independent and listening reading experiences. Students will be challenged to make reading a part of their everyday lives through contests and challenges throughout the year.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Tens Frames and Games (Lead teacher: Lynda Venuto)

    Understanding that numbers are composed of tens and ones is an important foundational concept for working with larger numbers. A strong sense of "ten" is a prerequisite for place-value understanding and mental calculations. This project will enhance this instruction with the use of the Ten-Frame Paddles. They will offer hands-on engagement as students place magnetic counters on boards, and then show their work.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Ukes in the Music Class (Lead teacher: Nancy Leong)

    Ukes in Music Class will provide ukuleles to be used for music instruction in general music classes. While learning to play the ukulele, students will learn and build upon basic music concepts such as rhythm, note reading and harmony, while creating music. Since the ukulele has only four strings, students are able to produce a pleasant sound fairly quickly, which motivates them to continue to learn. Ukuleles can be used as an "orchestra," where group interactions are encouraged as students work together toward a common goal of creating great music. Students will also learn about other countries as they learn to play music from various cultures all over the world.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Writing Professionals (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Chris Redwanowski, Staci Wagner)

    The purpose of this project is for students to "Go to the Office" as writers each day, engaging in writing experiences. Students will set up a classroom to look like a writer's office. Each student will create a working area to include all of the tools they may need for writing (a personal word wall, goals for their writing – “jobs assigned from their boss” – and conferences with their “editors”).

    Orchard Valley Middle School: True Stories: People, Places (Lead teachers: Veronica Akhtar, Margaret Davis, Linda Wienckoski)

    This project is collaboration between the visual arts and language arts classes. It begins with an author visit by Jen Bryant, acclaimed author of poetry, biographies, and picture books. Students then will explore the process of researching, writing, collaborating with illustrators, and publishing their own non-fiction books on a digital platform.

    Orchard Valley Middle School: Arts of Asia in Reach (Lead teachers: Veronica Akhtar and Margaret Davis)

    The purpose of this project is to integrate the arts of Asia into the curriculum. Students will create Japanese tea bowls and stage a traditional tea ceremony after a visit from a Shofuso expert on the "Art of Tea." In addition, they will learn about a Japanese dyeing method, Arashi shibori, its history and its process. Finally, students will discuss the tradition of the kimono and make their own kimono to display.

    Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: Choosing Good Seats for Our Learning (Lead teacher: Grace Ahn)

    In our classrooms, students engage in approximately 35 minutes of independent reading per day. One of the challenges fifth-graders face is choosing a good seat for their learning – somewhere they can be comfortable and away from distractions. Making special reading chairs available will allow students to be comfortable but away from other areas (couch or rug) so other students don't become a distraction. This will translate to more time on task and more pages read.

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Multiplication Master (Lead teacher: Domenick Renzi)

    Multiplication Master allows for the purchase of handheld electronic flash-card games for third-grade classrooms. The games target the most challenging basic facts of multiplication. Various modes exist as students try to correctly answer as many problems in 60 seconds across two levels of ability. Each third-grade classroom will receive eight games to use throughout the school year as part of Math Stations. The daily practice will help to develop fluency and accuracy as the students experience and learn multiplication for the first time. 

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Score with 24: The 24 Game (Lead teacher: Domenick Renzi)

    The 24 Game takes mental math to the next level as students use addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division to make given numbers on a game card equal various numbers. This grant will allow for the purchase of 24 Game Add/Subtract Primer Game Cards for all second-grade classrooms and 24 Game Multiply/Divide Primer Game Cards for all third-grade classrooms. Throughout the school year, students will practice playing in groups of four. In the spring, each second- and third-grade classroom will hold a 24 Game Tournament to determine who competes in the Wedgwood School 24 Game Tournament of Champions.                                                    

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Filling up on Filament: 3D Printing (Lead teacher: Kathi Kersznowski)

    Grant monies will be used to purchase filament for a newly acquired MakerBot Replicator 3D printer. Students will learn to use age-appropriate software to imagine, plan, design and create useful projects. The goal is to have opportunities for students at each grade level to learn skills related to understanding computer assisted design, see a 3D printer in action, and eventually use this revolutionary technology to print objects.                                

    Washington Township High School: Buzzing in Learning 2 (Lead teachers: Marian Carcel, Mary Howard)

    Grant monies will allow for the purchase of a second wireless classroom buzzer system that can be used as part of a dynamic classroom participation tool. By using buzzers, a more even and fair way is created to select student in question/answer segments of class. Simple quiz slides, using the buzzers, can be incorporated into the middle of Power Point lessons, to break up the monotony of a lecture and add some fun. Buzzers will be used in biological science classes, as well as by members of the school Brain Bee team, which promotes the neurosciences. The second unit allows for full classes to participate at the same time.              

    Washington Township High School: Bringing the Orchestra into the 21st Century: Electric Strings (Lead teacher: Judy Pagon)

    Several years ago, the Orchestra program earned a grant to purchase an electric violin, renewing and reinvigorating students' enthusiasm for learning and playing music, and it making it possible to perform more contemporary genres of music. This grant will allow for the Orchestra to purchase an electric cello so more students can benefit, and the program can be further enhanced.

    Washington Township High School: Careers in Music/The Working Musician (Lead teacher: Gregory Janicki)

    Funds will pay to have master guitarists from Professors, Performing Artists and Luthiers in the Tri-State area visit and give Master classes. The purpose of the project is to have skilled guitarists in all genres – Classical, Jazz, Blues and Contemporary – as well as guitar instrument makers give classes, clinics and critiques to and for WTHS students. Students will see how playing and the construction of the instrument is cross curricular. This project will encourage social interaction with master musicians, performers, luthiers and students, and can encourage students to pursue career choices involving the guitar.

     Washington Township High School: Digitally Photographing Wild Animals (Lead teachers: Lauren Jackson and Kirsten Smith)

    In order to fulfill the Animal Photography Unit in the Digital Photography curriculum, students will be photographing a selection of wild animals presented by the Philadelphia Zoo during a specified class period. Students will be using skills acquired from previous units as well as the application of new equipment and techniques to explore methods of photographing animals. They also will gain first-hand knowledge of challenges, risks and ethical issues inherent in photographing animals, as well as identifying career possibilities in photographing animals.

    Washington Township High School: Improving Learning Through Movement (Lead teachers: Lauren Jackson and Kirsten Smith)

    Grant monies will allow the purchase of stability balls for students to sit on, improving the learning environment. Currently, students fight over the limited exercise balls available as an alternative to regular classroom chairs. The balls keep students more alert and focused on the task at hand. High school students are constantly tired from their active lifestyles and early morning hours at school, and sitting on the balls requires them to stay awake to balance. Sitting on the ball: enhances attention and concentration; improves learning through movement; promotes "active sitting" with little or no disturbance; assists in improving posture; improves blood flow to all parts of the body, especially the brain; strengthens core and back muscle groups; and improves balance and coordination.

    Washington Township High School: My Skull is Exploding! (Lead teachers: Marian Carcel, Mary Howard, Costa Tsoukalis, Shannon Hornibrook)

    Funds will allow for purchase of a take-apart, color-coded model of the skull to help students learn the bones and how the various bones fit together. In anatomy, students learn the names of all the bones, including the skull. Classroom skeletons include a skull that is in one or two pieces and all one color. The bones of the skull are extremely complex and the relationship between the bones is difficult to see.

    Washington Township High School: Student Assistance Program Psycho-Educational Support Groups (Lead teacher: Judy Pagon)

    Caron Treatment Center's Student Assistance Program staff will facilitate psycho-educational support groups during the school day in cycles for students that are identified by administrators, counselors, parents, or self-referrals. The support group functions as a safe environment for expressing feelings, a sense of belonging, and, equally as important, as a learning laboratory to gain self-acceptance and social skills. Students learn how to deal with critical life events, to deal with problems that may interfere with their learning, and to enhance their personal coping. Specific support group topics include, but are not limited to: drug and alcohol insight; aftercare; grief/loss; children of alcoholics; stress and anger management; and self-esteem.

    Washington Township High School: Healthy Apps (Lead teachers: Jenny Hudock and Terry Cotton)

    Grant funds will be used to purchase iPads for the high school nurses, who strive to support the physical, emotional, mental and social health of students. Electronic health records, statewide immunization databases, computerized charting and even assessment tools are ways technology is used in the school health setting. Access to paperless documents is becoming a necessity. The nurses will use the tablets daily to chart health office visits, sign-out student medication, and access medical alerts and document screenings while right beside the student. The iPads’ portability allows them to be taken on emergency runs to a classroom, to access student health information during fire drills/emergency evacuations, and even on field trips that require a nurse. As with the classroom teachers, nurses also can use applications only available on iPad to teach students and families regarding illnesses and general health