Here are some testimonials from some of our past grant winners:
Sonia Calamusa, World Languages, SPFHS
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Flipgrid: Creating Video Diaries
in the World Language Classroom
"I won a grant last year for four subscriptions to Flipgrid. Flipgrid is an app that allows students to record their answers/create a video and then respond to them. After I won the grant I quickly implemented it to create an online digital journal for each chapter of the novel we were reading in Spanish 4. I also used if for all of my classes because the app is so versatile and can be tweaked for all levels and students. Four members in my department also used the subscription. Flipgrid has become part of my teaching repertoire and students use it all of the time. As a world language teacher, it helps all of my students speak in the target language and allows everyone's voice to be heard.
The EEF is a place I can tap into, as an educator, and expand my horizons and those of my students. It is a wonderful feeling to know that there is an organization that allows me to try something new and encourages risk taking and thinking outside of the box. The Beefsteak Dinner was a great event to honor those who won. THANK YOU EEF for funding these grants or us. They are greatly appreciated!"
Kelly Bhatia, Kindergarten, McGinn Elementary
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Vermicomposting in Kindergarten
"Below are a few snapshots of learning experiences that have been made possible by your foundation’s generous grant. We have been learning so much with the books and tools that you have provided. The compost bin is active and constantly changing and we can’t wait to add the “worm poop” to the McGinn garden in the spring."
Kanika Chopra, English, SPFHS
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Increasing Racial Literacy
Through Book Clubs
"After receiving a grant to enrich students' options for book clubs, I was able to order 25 compelling young-adult novels. We chose to have five different titles, each one featuring a protagonist that was an ethnocultural minority. The diverse experiences of these characters enriched students in-class and out of class discussions. These texts provided students with a launching pad for meaningful investigation of social inequities and disparities that continue to plague our society.
Students are currently working on a research narrative project that centers on perspective-taking. Many students have chosen to write from the perspectives of characters in their books. Students have done both qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the experiences of their literary characters.
The EEF has given our students the opportunity to question the dominant discourse and investigate the perspectives that too often go unexplored."
Michelle Arminio, 7th Grade Language Arts, Park Middle School
Winner of a 2018 Grant for a Reading Data Dashboard
"I wanted to provide you an update on the EEF grant that the Park ELA teachers received last year for the Reading Data Dashboard. From September - December the ELA teachers introduced the Google Book Tracker and encouraged independent reading. After collecting data for the past couple of months, the Dashboard in the Media Center is now live. Students are gathering around the dashboard, talking about books, and checking them out based on the "Trending" chart. A huge thank you is owed to the technology department, Dr. Dumaresq, Carla Herniter, and Lynn Biener for their help in getting it up and running. We thank you for funding this project; it wouldn't have been possible without the EEF. We will keep you updated."
Zachary Rittner, AP Environmental Science, SPFHS
Winner of a 2018 Grant for the NJ Trout Program for APES at SPFHS
"I just wanted to thank you all again for your support in establishing a NJ Trout in the Classroom program here at SPFHS. Last week our 350 trout eggs arrived and the students and I could not be more excited. We put together a few videos and will continue to document the experience moving forward. Please feel free to follow us on YouTube!" Egg Day, Day 1, Eggs hatching, The First Fry, The First Feeding, Leaving the Breeder Cage, and Another Day in the Life.
"As of January, Our trout are doing amazing! We have about 200 fry at the moment with most about 1.5 inches in length. To put those numbers in perspective, about 25 of the other schools registered for the program have lost all their fish. I realize it is January, but I am looking ahead to May when we will be releasing the trout into Seeley's Pond as per Fish and Wildlife Service regulations."
On May 31st 148 fingerlings were released into Seeley's Pond!
May 31, 2019, from EEF Trustee Suman Dahiya-Shah at the Trout Release:
"I did make it to the Trout Release just in time to represent EEF on this gorgeous day outdoors!
It was amazing to see our grant funded project come to fruition and the students enjoying a great day at the Watchung Reservation. The fish were given a last feeding. 148 fish fingerlings including one named Cornelius which ate two of his brothers! I heard some of the students saying "we love you fishes". Guess it was an emotional journey to raise them and then let them go!"
Zachary Rittner, AP Environmental Science, SPFHS
Winner of a 2019 Grant for the Spiffy High Bird Count
Update Feb 22, 2020: As promised, I wanted to share some pictures of my APES students learning about birding in preparation for the Great Backyard Bird Count. They loved using the equipment your grant helped provide and are anxiously awaiting the official bird count on 2/14.
"We did a small pilot program with the bird count materials (we missed the official bird count unfortunately). Again ,the students loved the experience and we are looking forward to full implementation later this school year in February in conjugation with the Audubon Society. We ordered supplies but they came in too late for us to participate in the Audubon Society's Great Backyard Bird Count, so we ran our own pilot program at the high school. My APES class will participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count this year after we get some special training at the Audubon Society's Scherman-Hoffman Wildlife Preserve.
This grant and the Trout grant have been successful and will continue to be successful. Both have added to the experience of the high school and my classes. The kids LOVE both activities!
The EEF means success and enrichment to me. You guys have allowed us to participate in experiences we never would have otherwise have had the chance to participate in and have greatly enriched the learning of the high school students."
Justin Fiory, Principal, School One Elementary
Winner of a 2019 Grant for Sensory Hallway
"I am so thankful for the opportunity to bring the sensory hallway to the students at School One. It has made a wonderful impact on our students thus far. After receiving the grant my secretary and I spent the summer installing the kit and started the year by introducing it to the staff and students. Since then, students have been seen using it, as a group or individually for those students that need a "sensory break." I feel it has been very successful and we are seeing kids truly enjoy this opportunity. I can't thank you all enough for this addition to our school, as it has had a very positive impact on our students."
John Lohn, Media Specialist, McGinn Elementary
Winner of a 2019 Grant for Complete Coding: A Whole-School Opportunity to Embrace Technology
“Since we received the grant for Sphero Robots, this new addition to our technology has been a great success. Upon receiving the Spheros, they were immediately introduced to the students. Students had the chance to see technology at work and became familiar with maneuvering the Spheros through mazes they created, by creating letters and numerals and using a graph-paper function to move them specific distances and in specific shapes.
Most notably, the Spheros played a key role in an interdisciplinary project that unfolded at the end of the 2018-19 school year and will be expanded upon during this year. I had the pleasure of working with Barbara Prestridge and Amanda Marchica on a project that linked art, music, mindfulness and technology.
Students listened to different music selections and took part in a mindfulness activity before driving their Spheros through paint to make artwork that reflected their feelings.
The end products showed how students' feelings/emotions can be influenced by music and mindful activities and allowed them to express these feelings/emotions using technology. The plan is for this project to be expanded and presented to faculty members for professional development. In addition, we are seeking opportunities to present this project to a wider audience, such as at conferences or seminars.
The EEF's generosity to the staff and students in our district is immeasurable. By offering support in the way of grants, the EEF opens doors for students to learn, often through methods that otherwise would be unavailable. The EEF also encourages SPF staff to creatively think about ways to influence student learning and chase these newfound ideas. The partnership between SPF staff and EEF is a tremendous success story.”
Dr. Slocum, the Principal of McGinn Elementary added: “Mr. Lohn has inspired our students to request the Spheros throughout the building. We will again use the Spheros for Day of Code this year and for robotics lessons, including as a comparison to our Lego Robots."
Dr. Jocelyn Dumaresq, Principal, Park Middle School
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Sensory Tools at Park and Terrill
& Garden Tools at Park
“Sensory Tools at Park and Terrill: Last year, the EEF supported a co-grant for Park and Terrill to purchase sensory tools for students. We purchased things like fidget tools, thinking putty and other tactile toys and place them in visible places in offices around the schools. The counselors and administration has loved how comfortable they make students! We notice that students distract themselves from concerns and are more willing to open up and talk about things that worry them while playing with the tools. We look forward to buying more!"
"Garden Tools at Park: The EEF has generously supported Park's burgeoning garden over the last two years. This past spring, we were able to get the garden up and running, thanks to the EEF's help! We have taken a completely unused space (see picture below) and transformed it into a place of beauty, learning and excitement! The garden attracted monarchs and our students were able to watch their entire life cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly! Our staff, students and community were able to harvest the wonderful vegetables and create amazing, nutritious dishes throughout the summer and fall. Without the EEF's support, we would never have been able to transform this courtyard. Thank you!"
Amie Berlant, Ella Greenberg and Samantha Melworm
4th Grade, Brunner Elementary
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Mirrors and Windows:
High Interest, Multicultural Guided Reading Books
"The 4th graders at Brunner Elementary School have been diving into the guided reading books we received from our grant, Mirrors and Windows: High Interest, Multicultural Guided Reading Books. With the grant, we were able to purchase 8 different titles. The books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and at a variety of reading levels. Highly relevant and appropriately challenging, the texts have engaged our 4th graders as they continue to develop their reading skills. Students have enjoyed seeing their own cultures and traditions reflected in these books and have broadened their knowledge and interest of other cultures as well. As teachers, we have enjoyed that these unique additions to our reading workshop resources have encouraged and supported cultural conversations in our classrooms far beyond what we had previously experienced."
"Thank you for your continued support of the educators and students of Scotch Plains and Fanwood!"
Dr. Sasha Slocum, Principal, McGinn Elementary
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Garden Greenhouse for
Enhancing Plant Growth from Seed to Fruit
John Lohn, Media Specialist, McGinn Elementary
Winner of a 2017 Grant for the STEM Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity
"Our grant for the greenhouse has led to increased voluntary participation and ideas to expand and enrich the growth of the vegetables and fruits that thrive in our garden.
We built the greenhouse last Spring and over the summer, including a pine base, so it will be weather resistant. We are planning to fill the bottom with gravel before planting season for appropriate drainage. Students will learn about the importance of greenhouses in our food supply this Spring when they begin our garden plantings. The strongest plants will start in the greenhouse in April. We plan to have a control group inside the school as well to see if both survive.
A new experiment we conducted this fall led by a group of parents and students will also continue in the greenhouse. McGinn participated in the Tomatosphere program through NASA. We grew tomato seeds labeled "J" and "K" without knowing which were from tomato plants grown on International Space Station and which were from earth. We grew the seeds/plants for thirty days with students recording data on their growth and submitted the results at the end of December. NASA has since told us which letter seeds came from which source, but we haven't revealed that yet. The Science Team will let our school know.
The other exciting component to this experiment is that we were allowed to keep the tomato plants. Thus, they are still growing inside the school and becoming sturdy plants. We are going to continue our Tomatosphere experiment by placing some "space" tomatoes and earth tomatoes in the greenhouse and keeping some inside until we are ready to plant in the ground (usually mid-May). We plan to have students make observations of the plants in the greenhouse and in school before they all move to the garden beds.
The EEF is an inspiration to McGinn and our district. Each year the teachers, administrators and staff have learned more about just how supportive the EEF is in funding ideas that extend our creativity and bring out our passions for educating. Thank you so much for your support!
Attached please find some pictures of our greenhouse building project and the Tomatosphere experiment. Included are also pictures of the Mouse Coding games you granted Mr. John Lohn, our Media Specialist, and how important they are to our developing coding education at McGinn. The photos are from December's Day of Code.
Caren A. Comeau, QUEST /Basic Skills, Terrill Middle School
Winner of a 2018 Grant for Google Glass for Marsville
"Receiving an EEF grant allowed me to use a set of VR goggles with my 6th grade class. We are exploring a manned mission to Mars and using the glasses took it up a notch! The students were so excited and energized to "feel" like they were on the surface of the red planet. When they created new spacesuits, habitats, and rocketry for the mission the goggles served as research for their innovations.
Over the years I have received several grants from EEF. Each grant took my curriculum to a new level and has allowed me to bring 21st century learning into my classroom. My QUEST program is unique and expanding thanks to your funds and generous support."
Jessica Cavaliere, Art, School One and McGinn Elementary
Winner of a 2016 Grant to use portable boxed exhibits from
the Morris Museum Loan Program
"Here are some pics of students at both McGinn and School One viewing artifacts from the Museum Loan program in order to serve as inspiration for their projects (fourth grade Greece unit and third grade Egypt unit)."
Charlene Hall, 3rd Grade, Brunner Elementary
Winner of a 2015 Grant to use LittleBits Science Materials
"My students are having a wonderful time creating projects with their LittleBits electronics. They are modules created with magnets that connect to batteries. They are creating things with Legos and Knex and integrating electricity to make things happen. It has been a highlight of our year together. I would welcome anyone the opportunity to come and visit and see what the children are making in the classroom. They are going home and researching and coming in to share ideas with their classmates."
Ray Moskal, English, SPFHS
Winner of a 2015 Grant to Create a Podcast Space for Broadcast Journalism Students
"The response has been great by students! My podcast studio has redefined my classroom and Raider News as a whole. With the grant we have changed the broadcast of Raider News and have shot our weekly update shows that air on YouTube, SPTV and the Fanwood local access station. It has driven up interest in the class and allowed students to show their personality while delivering the news in an area that was not available before."