2017-2018 Grant Awards

2017-2018 Princeton Education Foundation Grants

Elementary Grants

We Love Bees: CP: Ellen Klimczuk

            Spelling and Geography competition for grades 3-5

The Bees were held in the spring of 2018 and were exciting for both the student participants, as well as the student spectators who came to support and cheer on their classmates. Teachers across the school were involved in teaching the material and serving as judges. The participants had a chance to demonstrate the skills that had worked hard to hone, but all students at Community Park worked on Geography and Spelling throughout the year. The Geography portion developed an awareness and better understanding of geography and enabled all students to become active, responsible, and informed citizens of the world. Preparation for the Spelling Bee provided all students a chance to learn and study new and exciting words.

Stem Enhancement Project: CP: Yaimee Herrera

            Hands-on engagement in STEM learning, specifically engineering

Students had weekly opportunities during STEM Fridays to engage in various investigations and challenges, including engineering challenges through LittleBits engineering kits. Student teams designed and built vehicles with the kits. Students were required to design, test, revise, and retest as a group. At the end of each session there was time for students to share their designs and vehicles with their classmates. Students were given the opportunity to discuss what worked and what did not work, as well as what they could improve the next time. Students engaged in the design process to solve challenges while working with technology in a collaborative setting. This opportunity was beneficial for all students, but especially beneficial to students who have not previously had the chance to participate in STEM focused, hands-on projects.

Author’s Journey: JP: Dawn Henderson

            Author visit and planned activities supporting the complete writing process

The author presented to the students and discussed on his journey of becoming a writer and specifically about his writing process. The visit was combined with additional work in the Library and the classroom. After the author visit, our students in grades 3-5 made “Thinking about Writing” (at least 2 journal entries a month) that gives them a chance to reflect on where they are in the writing process in their classrooms and how they are feeling about their progress as writers. Students were able to connect the author’s experience to their own. It also allowed students to think of themselves as writers too.

High School Reading Buddies: JP, PHS: Lois Bach with Christina Maloney, Karen Gates & Julie Frank.

            Providing PHS ESL students added opportunities to speak and read in a non-threatening environment.  Instills the love of reading and mentorship for Pre-K students.

This project aimed to instill the love of reading and provide a mentorship opportunity for English Language Learner and Pre-K students. ELL students were given books to practice reading to Pre-K students. They were not only taught how to read these books in English, but given tips on reading aloud and engaging your audience. Students from both the elementary and high schools were able to engage in an authentic reading activity reinforcing that older students are readers, too. This created role models in the community around reading. For the high school students, reading to such young children was and continues to be revelatory. None of the high school students believed that the youngsters would be interested in reading. They didn’t think that they could sit still for a whole story. The high school students were also able to visit the elementary classroom, which looks very different from what they remember from their home countries. This visit also gave the elementary students the opportunity to “show-off” their classroom, explaining class activities and areas of their classroom. Fostering a pride in their education through this very authentic buddy program is really invaluable.

Developing a Multi-Language Library: LB: Theresa Cross, Ted Holsten

            Enriching foreign language collection in the LB library

Funds were used to purchase books for the library in languages other than English that reflect the cultural diversity of the community. The library now has over 150 titles in 10 different languages. English Language Learners are excited to find books in their native language and students whose primary language is English have used the collection to practice a new language or share with a relative who speaks the target language. Library circulation statistics indicated that the multi-language items in the Littlebrook library tripled because of this grant, and that over 60% of items have circulated to students. Littlebrook staff and families have also contributed titles to this section of the library. In fact, The International (multi-language) library has already outgrown the space allotted. It will be relocated to a different section of the library this year, with new shelving to accommodate continued growth.

Alternative Work Stations and Floor Seating: LB: Christine Morabito, Kristen Greenberg

            Providing alternative seating and work station options for Special Education students

Furniture and equipment were purchased for the classroom to allow varied seating options. The teachers used and continue to use all of our alternative work station/seating options regularly as part of their reading and writing programs as well as during math class.  The stations seamlessly fit into the teachers’ everyday lives with students. Students have access to alternative floor seating and work station options including: lap trays, rocking scoop chairs, stand up desks, desk converter for laptops, inflatable empire chair, zenergy ball chair to aide in attention and stamina in order to support time on task. In allowing students to make choices, we are supporting students to develop self- regulation and awareness and work toward fostering independence.

Second Step Social-Emotional Learning: LB: Meredith Cooke, Cristina Avena

            Program to help teach identified students the tools and strategies to help them navigate their environment and improve social-emotional competence

By directly teaching skills related to the “hidden” curricula of executive functioning, empathy, social interactions, emotion regulation and social problem solving, the Second Step program gives students a foundation of interpersonal skills and allows teachers to target these unique needs with their students. The teachers used the Second Step program with students who have been identified as needing small group intervention and direct instruction in these areas. The Second Step program provided surveys and assessments that were use to collect pre- and post- data on students’ skills and monitor their progress. Through the use of this program, students were able to identify skills that support their learning in the classroom, understand the concept of empathy, learn and apply emotional regulation (or coping) skills, and acquire an age-appropriate framework for conflict resolution.

Technology to enhance School Counseling: LB: Katelyn Hoobler

            Engaging students in a multisensory way, leading to faster comprehension and more effective generalization of targeted skills

The purchased iPads with specific Apps were used in a mini-mindfulness lessons in a kindergarten class. The kindergarteners engaged in meditation and other mindful activities, that have been shown to improve self-regulation skills. Once a week for about 5-10 minutes they participate in these exercised. The iPad and Apps were also used in individual and small group counseling. Student used the app to create a story about something that they experienced that they are trying to process. In this medium, students work with the stylus to engage the touch screen feature of the iPad to draw and write their story. In a small group setting, students will take turns using an iPad app to learn about identifying emotions in themselves and others.

Analyzing Nature with Digital Eyes: Riverside, CP,JP: Mark Eastburn, Bevan Jones, Megan Mulrooney, Lora Hobart

            Enable students to document and track natural populations through collaboration between the schools involved and through the construction and monitoring of outdoor cameras specifically used for natural data collection

This project allowed students throughout Princeton Public Schools to gather data on natural areas at Riverside School, Johnson Park School, and Community Park School
through a collaboration between teachers and students. The teachers and students constructed and monitored outdoor cameras recorded movements of wildlife on school grounds. The overall goal of this project was to enable students to document and track populations of pollinating insects (butterflies and bees), migratory birds, frogs, and Eastern box turtles.

For example, students were able to observe pollinators that visit flowers in our native plant gardens through images and streaming video, instead of approaching plants where insects might be scared off. This sort of observation was a safer alternative for students who might have allergies to flowers or bee stings. Video and images were available across the district through a website. Students gained deeper insights into the species that surround them, and analyzed data on a variety of local organisms that were compared to data sets collected in numerous locations and over various time periods. This project allowed students through out the district to observe species and collect data from a variety of settings throughout town, not just at their own school.

John Witherspoon Middle School Grants

IDEAS Wing Flexible Seating: JWMS: Kelly Riely, Claudia Luongo, Paul Skalka, Lonny Robtison, Randy Casey, Jennifer Baumgartner, Nyrie Janho

            Flexible seating for student collaboration area in JW IDEAS Wing

Furniture was purchased for the IDEAS Wing to allow interactive learning with multiple tools. Flex seating creates the added learning space to allow students to leave the classroom and enter the IDEAS wing, which was outfitted by PEF on prior grants. Students are able to collaborate and work in the hallways using the interactive smart board and white boards. The hallway in the IDEAS wing infused with flexible seating makes this an ideal place to collaborate and enjoy learning.

Multicultural Books for Special Education: JWMS: Nancy Abascal, Amy Borgia

            Providing books with a global perspective that enhance the Reading Writing Workshop Model in the Special Education program.

Multicultural books were purchased to enhance the interest in literacy of our special needs students. Students were able to choose from a variety of multicultural literature to learn about their own cultures as well as the cultures of other people. We want all students to become global citizens that have an understanding and appreciation of other cultures. The benefits of this grant will continue to give enjoyment for years to come.

Updating the World Language Library: JWMS: Monica Kenah, Kristina Fellin, Carolyn Bailey

            Expand the collection of authentic foreign language texts in the JW Learning Commons.

PEF funded the creation of the World Language Library at JW three years ago. Current funds were used to replace old periodicals from the original grant and to expand their current holdings in French, Mandarin Korean, German and Spanish to reflect the cultural diversity of Princeton. English Language Learners and World Language students are excited to have access to authentic texts, magazines and books published in the native languages of their countries. The size of the World Language Collection has increased by over 100 books and six periodical subscriptions. Princeton has a unique culture of learners with global connections and that is now reflected in our school libraries.

Real Coding gives Super Powers: JWMS: Lonny Robitson

            Addition of SPHERO+ programmable robotic ball to enrich Coding curriculum

Funding was used to purchase “Sphero” robots to take coding knowledge and experience to the next level for JW students. The Sphero robots allow students to strengthen their coding and computer programing talents in a continuous, new, and innovative way. Students used tangible coding tools they love in a purposeful and meaningful manner to solve varying types of real world problems. In this environment, students developed an understanding of computer science through creating, editing and evaluating their original programming activities both within and out of the virtual/digital world. In this digital age, the knowledge of coding will give our students a technological edge amongst their peers.

Social Issues Book Clubs: JWMS: Sharrie Barish, Monica Blake, Jeanette Paredes

            Enriching 8th Grade English Reading/Writing Workshop model with the addition of texts that explore a deeper understanding of issues society has and continues to face today.

Essential books were purchased that discuss a wide range of social issues, racial backgrounds and varied cultures. In this medium, students were able to learn about various social issues that correspond with identity, diversity, and social action. Students were able to identify similar issues that exist in today’s society. Through reading, writing, but more importantly discussion, students were able to use the text to view different perspectives and explore aspects of culture and social issues that affects other groups.

World of Art at my Fingertips: JWMS: Claudia Luongo

            Exploration of Art through the use of technology

The purchase of 4 Chromebooks for the Visual Arts Department at JW was funded. Students in each grade researched the effects that the environment can have on the natural world and on the man-made world.

Cardboard Boat Regatta: JWMS: Janet Gaudino, Bill Merritt, Paul Skalka

            8th grade culminating team-building activity with practical application of STEAM as students design and build a cardboard vessel to race in the school pool

Academically, students became knowledgeable in the physics of buoyancy and Archimedes Principle, forces of gravity and drag, and kinematics. In addition, students studied the culture, history and budget concerns of their assigned port cities. Students engineered a solution to a real-world problem, and developed collaboration skills as they worked in teams to develop solutions. This event has become one of JW’s most beloved school events The Regatta program continues to gain momentum and each year our boats get better. This program is a highlight and wonderful culminating engineering project for our eighth graders. It meets middle school requirements for the Next Generation Science Standards for engineering design and studies on forces and motion. This type of assessment could be utilized for Physics courses at PHS.

Princeton High School Grants

Poverty Simulation: PHS: Jessica Baxter, Andrea Dinan

            Interactive immersion experience that sensitizes participants to the realities of poverty

Over the course of the school year, two full scale Poverty Simulations were run, one for PHS Teachers and staff in February, and one open to the Princeton community in April. In both instances, more than 100 faculty and 100 community members, participated with community agencies in a simulation regarding every day obstacles underserved students and families face. This eye opening experience not only gave those who participated a different perspective when looking at poverty and the underserved, it also gave rise to possible ways to help those in the local community and the emergence of community partnerships towards the common goal of assistance and understanding.

Cultivating Advocacy: PHS, JWMS: Jennifer Kuntz

            Two-year program to develop self-advocacy for students with mild/moderate special needs.

Students showed more knowledge in regards to advocating for their IEP services and in speaking to their teachers instead of asking case managers or counselors to advocate for them.
With the help of the PEF grant, we were able to bring in a presenter three times to work with the students on developing self-advocacy skills, and create their own self-advocacy presentation and group activities so that they can continue to self advocate. Additionally, the students were able to turnkey what they learned to fellow and future PHS students. Students were able to present at the Dare to Dream Conference at Rider University to other special education students, as well. The students have also decided to start a self-advocacy club so they can meet regularly with each other to continue developing their skills.
Throughout this process, students were able to significantly learn about their strengths, weaknesses and their educational styles (what helps/hurts their learning). They better understood their IEPs, what their abilities are, and what accommodations and modifications are available. Students also learned how to appropriately speak with their teachers to advocate for themselves in and out of the classroom. In addition, they have learned how to work with other students to help them become strong self-advocates

Implementing CRISPR Technology in AP Biology: PHS: Jayne Ricciardi, Steffanie Shoop

            Hands-on engagement in revolutionary gene editing technique

This grant was used to purchase kits and equipment to carry out CRISPR experiments in PHS AP Biology classrooms. While completing the experiment in the kits, students used the CRISPR cas9 enzyme to create a mutation in a gene in nonpathogenic E. coli bacteria. Once the mutation has been made, the bacteria was able to survive on Strep Media, which they could not previously do. This was a nice visual of how a change in the genes of an organism can change its physical traits. Although the grant provided equipment used with the CRISPR lab, the purchased micropipettes have been used from additional labs in AP Biology and the Genetics course this year. They will serve many students in the future as well.
Students were able to do professional-level science with the CRISPR technology in the high school classroom. The scientific literacy of our students improved. CRISPR is a cutting edge technique that will be used more in the future to edit the genomes of organisms. Students gained a deeper understanding about the science and were better able to interpret published articles about advances in scientific work. Students also evaluated the ethical implications of using CRISPR to edit genomes.

Poetry Matters: Joy, Wonder, and Transformation: PHS: Courtney Crane, Emily Lipphardt, Susi Murphy

            Poet visits and classroom workshops to supplement poetry–based English curriculum

This grant allowed for PHS English classes to host local and national writers and to give students direct access to practicing, professional poets.
The interaction with living poets in a small and large group setting inspired curiosity, wonder, and joy in our students. They asked questions, listened to poems, and shared their own thinking about the power and promise of poetry. Through both, the sessions with individual poets and follow-up activities in the classroom, this project enabled students to see themselves as poets and to create their own work in response to their world. This project encouraged students to see poetry as a part of their everyday lives—a force and presence that can help them to both imagine their future and understand their present.

Tech is Happening:  PHS: Jen Bigioni

            Learning Commons Technology upgrades

Each day, 1,200 PHS students come through the PHS Learning Commons, that is between 2/3-3/4 of the school's total population. Replacing the computers was critical to supporting the work that our students need to do, much of it now being moved to PowerSchool Learning, Google Drive, and various other Web 2.0 platforms. With the new computers, the latest software was able to run smoothly, making our students' experience less frustrating, and markedly more efficient.

Flexible Classroom Seating: PHS: Lauren King, Brian Hoffman

            Increase student collaboration, conversation and engagement in English I and II.

Increase student engagement by creating a shift in the learning environment. The plan was to purchase furniture to create smaller groupings or areas where students can collaborate wit their peers in a space where they are more comfortable and, therefore, better able to focus. By maximizing a 21st century learning environment, this classroom was able to provide a personalized learning approach for our students.
The aim was to encourage conversation, collaboration, thinking, and problem solving. The current desks did not easily accommodate the diversity of tools students are now using (smartphones, texts, notebooks, laptops, iPads). Furthermore, the desks limited collaboration, because they restricted student movement (physical comfort and the ability to see one’s peers more easily are directly related to the mood and level of engagement students possess).

STEM Roots Science Experience: PHS: Claudette Guy

            PHS students teaching STEM to PPS elementary students through hands-on experiments in after-school program

Every week, a different experiment was conducted that was related to important scientific principles. For example, to teach the concept of a chemical reaction, the group inflated balloons using vinegar and baking soda, which produced carbon dioxide gas. To introduce the students to engineering, they tested the strength of honeycomb structures made out of paper. The expected result is that by the time these students reach high school, they will have a better understanding of why STEM is so important, and hopefully they will consider a career in the STEM field. For both sets of people, the PHS student volunteers and the elementary students, this project provided opportunities to learn and enjoy STEM, as well as empowered individuals to overcome stereotypes and know they can love and pursue STEM, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. This project also promoted collaborations, which is an essential and useful skill in the real world, and it is beneficial to learn at such a young age. Specifically to sophomores completing community service requirements, they were able to see the impacts they’ve had on younger children, and practice collaborative skills, responsibility, experience, first hand leadership, as well as re-establish and emphasize their own scientific passions.

Aerial Unmanned Vehicle and 3D Printer Construction: PHS: Graciela Elia

            Construction an aerial unmanned vehicle and assembly of a 3D printer through the application of principles taught in Computer Science curriculum and Robotics Club

Students in certain PHS Computer and Robotics Club worked on honing problem solving and logical thinking skills by programming a hardware device. At the high school level, electrical engineering and robotics have been good applications for Computer Science. Last year was the first year the Object Oriented with Java class incorporated Arduinos for students to program.