The Achieve Foundation of South Orange & Maplewood, a local education non-profit organization, closed out 2013 with a large donation of grants, tablets, books, instruments and more.
According to its website, The Achieve Foundation “raises funds to promote exemplary public education for all students and educators in our community.”
In December, the organization awarded $57,000 in grants to 57 teachers in all nine South Orange-Maplewood district schools for teachers to use for innovative projects they've conceived to enhance their students' learning experience during the current school year, Foundation officials said.
The grants boost technology, modernize science lab instruments, promote conflict resolution, provide cameras for yearbook clubs, bring more books into elementary classrooms, expand a Model United Nations Club, replenish a school garden, provide violas to in-need fifth-grade orchestra members in all elementary schools and more.
"The grant requests give us a good idea of teachers' priorities," said Deborah Prinz, executive director of Achieve. "Sometimes, by funding a new project, we start a process that takes on a life of its own. We awarded $5,000 for the first Robotics club at Columbia High School in 2012. The program caught on like wildfire and led to the establishment of a Robotics course at the high school this year."
In addition to grant money, Achieve also donated 49 iPads, 14 Kindles, books, violas and many other items.
Highlights of the grants unclude:
Future Physics Classroom. With the addition of iPads, this grant will impact about 400 sophomores studying physics at Columbia High School. Teacher Chandler Dennis said the iPads' camera and video capabilities and applications are expected to improve the accuracy of student lab investigations.
Small-Group Reading Instruction. At Seth Boyden Elementary School, fourth- and fifth-grade language-arts teachers will employ a new approach to reading instruction with sets of picture books they purchase for small-group instruction. Students will identify "signposts" that appear in most books, and then pause to think about their importance.
Garden Renewal. The Tuscan Peace Patch, a garden at Tuscan Elementary School, will be resupplied. The grant will replenish the soil and supply chicken mesh, peat moss, seeds and other needed gardening equipment.
Hydroponic Growing Station. Students of biology and Advanced Placement environmental science at CHS will experiment with different species of plants to determine the optimum nutrient and abiotic factors, such as light and pH, necessary for plant growth in a soil-free hydroponic growing station.
Superhero Fiction. Nearly 50 books targeting struggling readers and English Language Learners will be added to the collection at Clinton Elementary School.