2022 Spring Grants Awarded

Andy Sheehy Graduation Awards
Michael Fiorillo, Principal: MEMS – Grades 7 & 8
$150 awarded

The Andy Sheehy Award for Citizenship is awarded at the end of each year to six 8th grade students.  The award impacts and promotes the students’ work ethic and desire to reach their academic potential, achieving high marks and becoming a role model to their peers.  Each of these students receives a $25 Barnes & Noble gift certificate along with their award.


Investigating Tsunami Mitigation Techniques: Wave Tank  
Marie Behnke, Suzanne Fenkel, Donna Falk & Dawn Danza: MEMS – Grade 8
$558 awarded

These wave tanks will be used with a clear focus; we want our students to study tsunamis, understand how they form, test current solutions, and propose ways to minimize impacts. In using the tanks, students will test different existing solutions to protect communities from large waves. Then, they think about how well the solutions work to protect against tsunamis. This grant will provide students with the ability to collect quantitative data and test the effectiveness of tsunami mitigation designs. This will help them create a proposal for a community of stakeholders that is backed by evidence from their water tank investigations.


High Noon
Heidi Lombardo & Pam Kleschinsky: Clark Mills Special Education Department –all grades
$783 awarded

The grant would be used to purchase High Noon Books Sets for use with our special education students in the resource room. High Noon provides books that have fine-art illustrations and are authentic, engaging decodable literature that help students bridge the gap between phonetic decoding and fluent independent reading. Many of our special education students are significantly below grade level due to their poor fluency and decoding skills. High Noon Books are books for struggling readers that are written with much more than short sentences and low Lexile scores. These books have controlled vocabulary, subtle repetition of vocabulary, predictable text and illustrations that truly support the story. These are all important factors to consider when selecting the proper reading materials for our students.

The main objective is to give students text at their instructional level to assist with decoding and comprehension lessons taught in the classroom. It is challenging to find books that our students can read and are of interest to them. Too often, books on their individual reading levels are not engaging to our students. The High Noon book sets provide them with both fiction and non-fiction stories that they can read and are interested in reading. Our objective is to use these books to supplement the classroom instruction and to encourage our students to read, while at the same time, develop confidence in their reading skills.

Carnevale Masks
Linda Schiano, Italian Teacher: MEMS – Grade 8
$1,160 awarded

This grant will be used to purchase authentic imported "Colombina Grezza" Venetian Masks. The art of creating these masks is a tradition that is unique to Venice, Italy. Students have been creating their own Venetian masks in Italian class for 11 years. It is an activity the students look forward to every year. It is a fun, educational and creative activity for the students.

During this annual activity students create their own unique and extravagant mask using markers, glitter, ribbons, gems, feathers and more. Carnevale di Venezia is one of the most famous celebrations in the world. Thousands of tourists visit Venice during this time to admire the extravagant masks and costumes worn by those parading through the city. Students learn about the meaning and history attached to the different masks and costumes.


Calming Corner  
Jessica Young: Lafayette Mills – All grades
up to $1,800 awarded

This grant will be used to purchase liquid floor tiles to create a calming corner in the classroom. A calming corner can be a safe place for students to do peer lead restorative circles or to just process through issues.

A calming corner should be introduced in their classrooms as safe places. They are not for students who are “in trouble,” but rather for all students in the classroom. When students experience stress or trauma at home or are overwhelmed in school, their nervous systems respond. Some students become extremely activated while others shutdown. Activation comes in reactions such as inattention, difficulty sitting still and hyperactivity. Shut down looks like daydreaming, falling asleep in class or not responding to others bids to connect. With both activation and shut-down, cognition is impaired, and learning is difficult. Calming corners can help with both. When activated, a calming corner provides an opportunity for students to reset or re-regulate and when shut down, a calming corner provides opportunity for engagement.


Adaptive Supports for All Students in the Art Room   
Allison Tumminia: Taylor Mills – grades K-5
$3,750 awarded

This grant aims to support the success of all students in the art room by providing a collection of adaptive supplies for any student to use, it will supplement the currently available resources in the art room. Students work in a choice-based, student-centered setting, but have limited adaptive supplies. There are many wonderful adaptive materials and products available that would benefit all students. By adding these supplies to our existing centers, art studio becomes even more inclusive.

This grant would allow for several types of Adaptive scissors (included left-handed options) that can meet students' needs, other materials this grant will provide include adaptive paint brushes and paint supplies, stamp pads for adaptive printmaking, blocks and magnetic building tiles for an adaptive construction center, and scented markers for our students with visual impairments - these will help students identify colors independently using scent. Sensory items and behavioral supports like wobble stools, foot bands, calming tools and more will be available for students to use in the art room.

Slant boards, pencil grips, and other tools available in academic classrooms will also be made available with the funds from this grant. Students will have access to these materials during their art period and will receive direct instruction on how and when to use them. By having these materials readily available for any student, it will eliminate any stigma for those who truly will benefit from their use. It will also specifically support our  disabled classes, classified students who need these supports, as well as kindergarten and first grade students who can also benefit from this additional support.

Dash Robots
Lisa Garnett: Wemrock Brook – Grades 1-5
$2,262. awarded

The grant would be used to purchase (6) Dash robots, connector accessories, and (6) Class Connect Home Edition licenses for 12 months from Wonder Works. The robots will be used during Makerspace lessons when students attend Library for their special as well as during the Makerspace, Media, LEGOs and Library enrichment classes offered through the district's summer program.

Students will use the dash robots to learn coding and robotics and tackle real-world, project-based challenges that are fun, engaging, and help develop real world skills in collaboration and creativity.

Being literate in computer languages and computational thinking is essential for navigating the modern world. Developing a growth mindset capable of tackling new challenges is also essential for today's youth. When students are faced with solving a coding and robotics problem that is right in front of them and is tangible, they are very motivated to succeed and are interested in experimenting with their ideas until those ideas help them achieve their goals. That experience helps them develop grit and a growth mindset.

In addition, coding reinforces core concepts such as logical sequences, patterns, creativity, measurement, and storytelling. For this reason, coding isn't just an add-on concept for the K-5 curriculum, it is fundamental for preparing students for the futures they will face and provides them with the skills they need for life-changing opportunities, whether they are utilizing technology or creating it.


MERS Enrichment Initiative
Sharon Hanson: All schools – All grades
$5,366 awarded

The grant would be used to purchase 50 All-Terrain Cases for iPads and Bretford Cube Charging Cart to be used with existing iPads in the district. Ms. Hanson’s goal as the district’s itinerant Enrichment teacher, is to comply with the NJ state law, develop a creative and engaging problem-solving curriculum using technology, as well as further enhance the educational opportunities offered in the mainstream classroom. Our student interest/problem solving-based programs are designed for the 21st century learner. Technology is essential in the execution and implementation of our curriculum. The iPad have an important and creative application to the Enrichment program by adding creativity and actively engages students. Furthermore, it satisfies all our technology requirements to facilitate our program.