• Washington Township Education Foundation Awards 43 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 43 mini-grants that will finance a number of supplemental programs throughout the Washington Township Public Schools during the 2014-15 school year. The grants, which this year total $30,143, 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 13 years of awarding mini-grants, the WTEF has contributed more than $192,000 toward enhancing the educational experiences of the District’s students. Ambitious fund-raising ventures, including an annual golf outing, have resulted in more than $450,000 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 2014-15 grant recipients:

    Bells Elementary School: The Author Chronicles

    (Lead teacher: Sandra Paredes)
    This project will enhance the reading program for second- and third-graders by providing materials that support the standards of the Common Core. Seven new books will be purchased, covering the works of seven different authors. Students can examine the author’s body of work by reading through tomes of various levels of complexity. They then can do a comparative study of the author’s style of writing, character development, plot development and central messages or themes.

    Bells Elementary School: Budding Book Buddies

    (Lead teachers: Suzie Brennan and Kelly DeLizza)

    Students in first 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 storybird.com to write, illustrate and publish their original stories into professional-quality softcover (first grade) and hardcover (fourth grade) books. Completed books will be shared during an Author's Tea before being displayed in the school library.                                       

    Bells Elementary School: Magic Slate Centers

    (Lead teachers: Rose Twardzik, Melissa Hermley)
    This project is intended to inspire and encourage students to actively participate in teacher-directed activities by using a new mode of technology – a “Boogie Board” LCD electronic device, which will be used in place of traditional white boards. The devices are clean, safe, allergy-free and environmentally friendly, and provide students will a multi-sensory incentive to engage and respond in class. Students use styluses to “write” and can erase with press of a button. Boogie Boards should save time, storage space and the expenditure of dry erase products.

    Bells Elementary School: Tchoukball

    (Lead teacher: Guy Campagna)
    Students will learn the game Tchoukball – a fast-paced, energetic game that promotes teamwork, continuous physical activity and social skills – which encourages maximum student participation. Invented by Dr. Herman Brandt in 1970, tchoukball is a game without violence and aggressiveness. A complete description of the game, which is played like handball, but without the option of intercepting passes, can be found at www.tchoukball.net.

    Birches Elementary School: Caryn Lin: From Bach to Rock

    (Lead teacher: Lisa Sebastiani)
    Professional violinist Caryn Lin will perform two assemblies that show the history of the violin from the Baroque period to modern rock time. She will demonstrate classical music on an acoustic violin, as well as adding technology though an electric violin with looping and pedals. Younger students will be exposed to a professional musician in concert for the first time, while older students can learn to better appreciate the instrument, and how technology can be used to jazz up the classical reputation of the violin.

    Birches Elementary School: Friendship Bench

    (Lead teachers: Elyse Giordano, Lauri Bronson, Kelly Chropka)
    The purpose of the project is to help students who would be unlikely to participate in recess to connect with use of the Friendship Bench. Students who wish to not participate in recess can share the bench and connect with new friends.

    Birches Elementary School: Patriotism in Philly

    (Lead teacher: Mary Byatt)
    Students will research and learn about different patriotic sites in Old City Philadelphia, and then use a white paper bag to create a three-dimensional picture “book bag.” Pages in the bag will include Independence Hall, Liberty Bell Pavilion, the Eternal Flame and more. Students will create patriotic arts and crafts projects including Liberty Bells made out of model magic, Constitution bracelets made from pipe cleaners and beads, Preamble booklets, Bill of Rights scrolls and an Eternal Flame made out of tissue paper and cardboard rolls. The crafts will be placed in the bags and sent home after the annual fifth-grade trip to Philadelphia.

    Birches Elementary School: Readers’ Theatre in Social Studies     

    (Lead teachers: Mary Byatt and Christine Frassenei)
    Fifth-grade students will use Readers’ Theatre to link biographical information and drama to primary source documents. Scripts will be based on the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, and monies will be used to purchase scripts and materials for costumes and props. Props will include caps, hats, jackets and skirts.

    Birches Elementary School: Revolutionary Teapot

    (Lead teacher: Mary Byatt)                                           
    Students in fifth grade will design and paint a teapot that would have been used by the Daughters and Sons of Liberty during the American Revolution. Students will read The Scarlet Stockings Spy by Trinka Hakes Noble, and as a follow-up they will create teapot banks to serve as lasting mementos.                                         

    Birches Elementary School: Sound Adventure

    (Lead teacher: Ruth Pelphrey) 
    Fourth-grade students will be provided with interesting “instruments” that create sound effects, and the students will incorporate those effects while writing adventure stories. Groups of three to five students will work together on the stories, which they later will perform for the class. The project incorporates literacy, public speaking and music together for a fun-filled adventure.                          

    Bunker Hill Middle School: Exploring Conservation Highlighting Solar Power

    (Lead teacher: Julie Lyons)                      
    Grant funds will allow for the purchase of solar thermal exploration kits, solar car kits, and a solar pump with tubing, as sixth-graders incorporate activities associated with solar power in their science unit. Groups of four will work together to create solar heaters and a photovoltaic water pump. Then, they will have a chance to race solar cars as a final part of the unit on conservation. Materials can be used for years to come, and the project will be implemented in line with Earth Day in April.

    Bunker Hill Middle School: United States History Props and Costumes

    (Lead teacher: Cathy Zeoli)
    Grant funds will allow for the purchase of historical costumes and props to use as part of experiential exercises within the Teachers’ Curriculum Institute’s textbook. Eighth-graders will don the costumes to create an environment that is fun, motivating and helps capture the moment that is central to understand historical events. Props include Colonial-era costumes, Abraham Lincoln accessories, hats from many eras, native American costumes, and much more.

    Bunker Hill Middle School: Vocational and Community Awareness

    (Lead teacher: Vince Dacquisto)
    Funds will present the opportunity for BHMS students to expand and enhance its vocational and job-readiness program for students with autism. A hot-foil stamp will be purchased, along with foil and napkins, and students will be able to perform real world tasks by creating custom napkins for school and community events. Popular events that can use the napkins include student achievement awards programs, community service awards parties, the school play, and many more. 

    Chestnut Ridge Middle School: Authors and Artists are Real People – 7th Grade Students Meet and Work with Author/Illustrator Lee Harper

    (Lead teacher: Linda Martins)
    Seventh-grade students will take part in an assembly and in-class visit with reknowned author/illustrator Lee Harper. Harper will spend the day at the school, hosting a pair of 60-minute assemblies and then visiting classrooms for more in-depth discussion. Harper also will have lunch with a select group of students. Students will get a chance to ask questions, learn about the writing/illustrating process, and believe that with hard work, you can make dreams come true.

    Chestnut Ridge Middle School: Creating a Nonfiction Classroom Library to Invite Browsing, Spark Curiosity and Promote Inquiry

    (Lead teacher: Karen DeFranco)
    Funds will be used to purchase nonfiction literature to be kept in the seventh-grade Basic Skills Language Arts classroom. Adding resources will enhance the variety of books in the classroom, motivate reluctant readers by tapping into their interests, and provide resources that support Common Core emphasis on complexity, reading comprehension and nonfiction text. Students who have scored partially proficient on New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge will be the focus of this initiative.

    Chestnut Ridge Middle School: Liberty Science Center Traveling Program – Science Circus

    (Lead teachers: Karen Carola, Lisa Schrumpf)The Liberty Science Center’s Science Circus (based out of Jersey City, N.J.) is an interactive science assembly that includes experiments and the use of volunteers. All CRMS seventh-graders will participate through one assembly. An activity guide is provided, and all materials needed for the presentation will be provided by the Center. Science Circus promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) by showing students that science can be challenging, but fun and exciting at the same time.         

    Grenloch Terrace Early Childhood Center: Leon Jordan Bucket Drumming

    (Lead teacher: Lisa Sebastiani)                
    Though a dynamic and engaging performance, Leon Jordan will demonstrate to the youngest students the various sonorities that can be achieved through the use of buckets, as he introduces students to several techniques they can use to create tones and articulations. During the 45-minute assemblies – one in the morning, one in the afternoon – students will learn how to use drumming and rhythm methods, and join Jordan in the performance focused on tempo, rhythmic notation and dynamics.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Each Child is Special in First Grade

    (Lead teacher: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Betty Finucane, Chris Redwanowski)
    At an early age, it is important to promote positive feelings for a student’s self-perception and for their peers. This project will provide opportunities to highlight each child as a special person who has something to contribute to the class, school and our world. Using big shapes, decorative posters, storage bags and more, students will work first with their parents on a home-based project, then share that project with the class, and finally participate in activities to promote their self-esteem.

    Hurffville Elementary School: First Grade Published Authors

    (Lead teacher: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Betty Finucane, Chris Redwanowski)
    In first grade, students learn how to transform their thoughts and ideas from simple oral stories into written, personal stories. The project will challenge and reward students as they publish their own story. Using My Storybook blank books, students will author their own story and present the finished, published works to parents and classmates at the end of the school year.                                 

    Hurffville Elementary School: The First Grade Reading Challenge

    (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Betty Finucane, Chris Redwanowski)       
    In first grade, students become readers. To promote reading, this program will challenge students to read daily at home and reach reading goals set by the teacher. Parents will be asked to read with their child daily and help establish good reading habits. At school, students will record their reading accomplishments. When goals are met, students’ success will be celebrated with classmates using grant funds to purchase book pouches, incentive charts and congratulatory stickers.                                               

    Hurffville Elementary School: Gymnastics is for Everyone

    (Lead teacher: Melissa McNally)   
    The physical education learning experience of all students at Hurffville will be expanded through an extensive gymnastics unit which focuses on balance, strength and agility with a concentration on team building. Students excitedly anticipate this unit each year and glow with confidence as they overcome challenges they never thought they were physically capable of achieving. In an era where children are so often underexposed to self-esteem-building physical activities, this unit provides a learning environment where students can challenge themselves at various levels based on their personal abilities and fitness levels in a non-competitive environment. Grant monies will allow for the purchase of new and more current equipment that will best and most safely enable students to achieve these goals.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Math is Thinking, Moving and Writing

    (Lead teacher: Lynda Venuto)
    This grant will allow for the purchase of life-size hundred grids, which are used as a standard of Mathematics Practice essential to master first-grade objectives. Now, students will be able to concretely, as well as physically, work with the grid in learning to count by ones, twos, fives and tens. Students also will be asked to transfer what they learn from the grids into math journals – bought with the grant funds – requiring them to not only give a correct answer, but also to provide written support for that answer.                                                                

    Hurffville Elementary School: Pen Pals in Washington Township

    (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Ellen Calandra)
    Hurffville first-grade students will connect with fellow students at Wedgwood Elementary School through a yearlong pen pal program. The project will help students meet a new friend through learning how to write friendly letters, postcards and other forms of communication. Monies will be used to purchase cards, postcards, envelopes and more creative items.                                   

    Hurffville Elementary School: Phil-A-Rhythm

    (Lead teacher: Lisa Sebastiani)                                                    
    Band students will have the opportunity to listen to professional musicians performing on instruments of the percussion family through on-site assemblies. Performers will bring instruments used all over the world from marimbas to steel drums. Students will have the opportunity to accompany the performers on a steady beat, try new instruments, and learn historical and cultural facts about the instruments. The assemblies should encourage recruitment and retention of students in the instrumental music program.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Recess Can Be Fun Off the Playground, Too

    (Lead teacher: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Betty Finucane, Chris Redwanowski)
    Many recess days do not allow students to use the playground because of weather or playground conditions. While students have the option to walk outside on these days, it’s not always an exciting form of exercise or recess for first-graders. Using grant funds, games and activities will be purchased that can be fun, engaging and able to use outside even without access to the playground.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Taikoza: Japanese Festival Drums

    (Lead teacher: Nancy Leong)                                                                                
    Taikoza: Japanese Festival Drums is a live music performance from award-winning arts program “Young Audiences.” The group will visit Hurffville and provide an electrifying aural and visual display consisting of three drummers and a dancer. Huge taiko drums were originally used to scare away the plague and evil spirits in Japan. Today, they keep people glued to their seats. The experience will enhance the students’ music education by providing an opportunity to attend a live performance by professional musicians, and enhancing their awareness and understanding of other countries and cultures.

    Hurffville Elementary School: Writing is Just Building a Story

    (Lead teachers: Jeanne York, Liane Curtis, Denise DeLeo, Betty Finucane, Chris Redwanowski)
    First-graders will learn to “build stories” using concrete learning materials, either as part of small writing groups or as part of a learning station. Using the purchased learning tiles, students will discuss how to write stories sequentially, include characters, setting and a problem, and to put things together in a logical format. Using the tiles and creating a “flip book” offers a fun way to practice writing, even for the most reluctant of students.                                                            

    Orchard Valley Middle School: Book Club

    (Lead teacher: Joanne Leahy)  
    A Middle School Book Club will be established at Orchard Valley to support building a positive attitude toward reading, developing positive habits of reading for pleasure, instill a love of books in students, and increase or maintain reading proficiency throughout the year. Students will be provided with a book appropriate to their age-level interests and reading ability. The grant would help purchase multiple copies of the books, which students will later discuss with peers and teachers, as they reach their reading needs and goals.

    Orchard Valley Middle School: Listen: Writing Your Way into Art

    (Lead teachers: Veronica Akhtar, Peggy Davis)
    This project will create a virtual website of podcasts of student artwork that will be implemented and maintained by the art department. Writing and recording podcasts will help students become better writers as they hear how the flow of their words describe their projects. Students will be challenged to observe, inquire, infer, describe, conclude, revise, produce and publish. The podcast record can be shared with families via Moodle, and eventually with other classes across the District.

    Orchard Valley Middle School: Visions of Achievement

    (Lead teachers: Dan Jedwabny, Cathryn Anderson)
    Grant money will allow for the purchase of video editing equipment to produce instructional and promotional video content to enhance student learning and involvement. In addition, funds will be provided to purchase flatscreen monitors in grade-level hallways and common areas to serve as virtual billboards, touting student achievement, advertising events and providing motivation quotes. Videos created will include those that promote anti-bullying, a more positive school climate, and reduced HIB (harassment, intimidation and bullying) incidents. Students will work with teachers in creating the videos and working the editing equipment, and all students will have access to the information the clips provide.

    Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: Let’s Learn the Music Staff

    (Lead teacher: David Cona)
    Using the “Noteworthy Elementary Music Classroom Rug” – a large rug with the staff and other musical symbols on it – students will be able to physically understand the workings of the music staff through movement. Classes can play staff-related games and activities that will enhance their understanding of the music staff, clef signs, octaves, the musical alphabet, lines and spaces, and names of notes of both the treble and bass staff.

    Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: No Noise Feet

    (Lead teacher: Terri Kratz)
    Grant funds will allow for the purchase of silent sliders that will be placed on student chairs. These sliders will significantly reduce the noise and distractions while teachers are teaching and students are learning. Students should be able to concentrate better and should be more effective learners in whole group, small group and independent activities.

    Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: Webquests for Nonfiction Information

    (Lead teacher: Grace Ahn)
    Students will embark on various webquests tailored to their learning and needs. They will be required to identify information and listen to parts of text spoken aloud to answer certain questions. All students benefit, but it’s especially helpful for students who struggle with reading, as the option to hear text spoken is available. Grant funds pay for the cost of headphones for the class.                  

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Angle Tangle

    (Lead teacher: Domenick Renzi)
    Grant funds for Angle Tangle will be used to purchase “Anglegs,” which are sets of legs in six lengths that easily snap together to motivate students to explore plane geometry with classmates. Students discover what happens to sides and angles as they use the same-length legs versus different-length legs while building polygons. By attaching more legs, students can study polygon heights, measure area, find center points, study triangles and quadrilaterals, and more.

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Club Math

    (Lead teacher: Domenick Renzi)
    Club Math rewards Wedgwood students who become members of the Wedgwood School Doubles Club (Grade 1), the Subtraction Club (Grade 2), or the Fearsome 15 Club (Grades 3-5) with a math-themed pencil. Student practice various basic facts of math in class and then try out for club membership by participating in a flash card activity to demonstrate fluency and accuracy.

    Wedgwood Elementary School: Math Packs

    (Lead teacher: Domenick Renzi)
    Math Packs are bags that are filled with grade-level math games, manipulatives and picture books that support the Grade 1 Common Core Standards of Math. Each student will be assigned to take home the Math Pack for one week during the school year and explore the many different activities that are included, like flash cards, picture books, number lines, pattern blocks, a time-telling clocks. Students will write in journals about their experiences, their favorite activity, and what they learned while engaged in math with their families. Monies will pay for the activities that will be placed in four Math Packs shared by the four first-grade classrooms.

    Washington Township High School: Buzzing in Learning

    (Lead teachers: Marian Carcel, Mary Howard)
    Grant monies will allow for the purchase of a 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.                                 

    Washington Township High School: Hindi 101 Class through Hindi USA

    (Lead teacher: Robert Hart Jr.)
    Monies will be used to allow Mr. Hart to enroll in a yearlong Hindi USA class. Hart teaches several English Language Learners whose main language is Hindi, and he will use the class to gain a grasp on basic mechanics and grammar. That knowledge should help with the communication, as well as with teaching the ELLs the workings of English grammar and mechanics.

    Washington Township High School: Let it Grow                                                                      

    (Lead teachers: Mary Howard, Constantinos Tsoukalis)
    Students will incorporate inquiry-based labs into the existing Biology and AP Environmental curriculum, intending to improve skills and create a more positive attitude toward science. Monies will be used to purchase four plant light houses, as well as tools that will be used to collect data from plants being grown for research. In Biology, the equipment will help with direct labs in the photosynthesis/cellular respiration unit. In Environmental, labs of species competition and population dynamics will utilize the equipment. The labs also can be a part of students’ end-of-year research projects. Because the houses can be used every year, the grant could impact thousands of students going forward.                   

    Washington Township High School: Making the World a Better Place through Music

    (Lead teacher: Judy Barnett)
    WTHS graduate, composer and bass player Ranaan Meyer will write a composition at three different levels of difficulty that can be performed by students at all grades. Meyer will coach the students and perform with them at the District’s tri-annual String Festival, playing a selection written just for them. All District string students (grades 5-12, approximately 450) will participate in the project. Younger students can benefit from playing the piece with older, more experienced students. And the older students and become role models for their younger counterparts.

    Washington Township High School: Mosaic Mural Completion and Installation

    (Lead teacher: Lauren Cichoski)           
    WTHS ceramics students will collaborate with a local artist to create a mosaic mural within the school walls. The idea is to integrate the subject matter of the curriculum of visual arts with student involvement to express and idea or theme that will embody pride and school spirit. The project will begin once ceramics foundations are achieved. The visiting artist will work with students after school to create and install the mural over the course of the year.                                            

    Washington Township High School: Student Assistance Program Psycho-Educational Support Groups

    (Lead teachers: Heather Petolicchio, Jamie Oliver)
    Caron Treatment Center’s Student Assistant Program staff will facilitate four psycho-educational support groups during the school day in six-week cycles for student identified by administrators, counselors, parents or self-referrals. Support groups serve as a safe environment for expressing feelings, a sense of belonging, and as a learning laboratory to gain self-acceptance and social skills. 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.

    - WTPS -