Naugatuck Education Foundation Awards Six Grants

The annual grant reception was held on Thursday at the Neary Room on Church Street.

Debby Wilson poses with her NEF grant check All photos by Nancy Sasso Janis
Debby Wilson poses with her NEF grant check All photos by Nancy Sasso Janis

In the last three grant cycles since the inception of the Naugatuck Education Foundation, the group has gone from awarding $2,000, to $10,000, to almost $20,000 this year. The volunteers that make up the foundation are the first to admit that they couldn't do it without their sponsors, including Ion Bank, Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan, Stop & Shop and Dunkin Donuts, as well as private donations. NEF president Matt Fortney thanked each and every one of the long list of sponsors by name at the reception held on Thursday after school in the Neary Room to celebrate the six recipients of the 2014 grants. The culinary students at Naugatuck High School provided a wonderful array of refreshments for the principals, teachers, parents, board of education member and parents that attended.

The reception began with the National Anthem sung by Naugatuck High School senior Alex Hernandez. Stephanie Colella brought some of the younger members of the high school and Western School Drama Club to perform a song from their wonderful production of Wizard of Oz and then thanked the NEF for their grants that helped get the show on the high school stage. Former grant recipient John Forish spoke about his "Epic Tales" after school art club. Andrew Avenue principal Taran Gruber shared information about the "My Greenhouse" program at his school that was funded by an NEF grant.

Deborah Wilson, a second grade teacher at Salem Elementary School was given  a grant to fund her "Book Creators Club."

Ms. Wilson told me that she will meet with the members of the Book Creators Club before school on Fridays. The students in grades two through four will transform a nonfiction piece that they have written into an e-book using Book Reader software installed  on one of five Ipads purchased through the NEF grant.

Naugatuck High School Physical Education teachers Roberta Buckmiller, PE Teacher of the Year Tony Loomis, Lisa Green & Sean Dunn were awarded a $5,561.82 grant for their project entitled "The Key to Cardio."

The state of Connecticut requires all students to take a fitness exam in Physical Education class that measures cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance and flexibility. The majority of students that fail have difficulty with the cardiovascular component. Recognizing an opportunity to make learning about cardiovascular exercise interactive, fun and effective, these four teachers applied for a grant to purchase heart rate monitors that will sync to iPads and provide same-time data on the time and quality of cardiovascular exercise. The teachers will be able to collect and analyze heart rate data and provide instant feedback to students on their activities.

Maureen Greene and Karie Stango at Hillside Intermediate School were awarded a grant for "Technology Math Stations."

Looking for an opportunity to enhance the Common Core Math curriculum, Ms. Greene and Ms. Stango applied for a $1,400 grant to purchase four Chromebooks and two iPads to create Technology Math Stations. Sixth grade students will work around various stations set up in the classroom and engage in different web based math activities. The stations will allow kids to engage in different sensory and mathematical activities, while using fun programs and current technology.

Alison Stephens was given a $1824.58 grant to fund "Seaperch Robotics After School Club" at City Hill Middle School.

At CHMS Ms. Stephens will be launching the first after school robotics club in town. Seaperch Robotics is an engineering program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The aim of the club is to immerse students in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) while building an underwater remotely operated vehicle from scratch. Through this program, the kids will also be "hands on" with most of the national science standards.

Hillside Intermediate School Carolyn Mucci received a $3702.96 NEF grant for her program entitled "Moving Beyond Book Reports: Book Trailers," as well as $500 through the Rotary Club.

Every child at Hillside is required to keep a log of the books they've read during the month and then answer questions about one of the books to get credit for their work. Ms. Mucci, the reading consultant at Hillside, noticed that many students do the reading, but fail to complete the logs. In an effort to get students more engaged in showing their understanding of what they've read, Ms. Mucci is introducing Moving Beyond Book Reports with Book Trailers, an interactive, multimedia approach to demonstrating comprehension employing 8 mini Ipads. Students will be able to respond to their texts through podcasts, music videos, video reenactments and creating songs based on sections of their stories.

Lt Col Valerie Lofland and MSgt Gary Morrone of the Naugatuck High School ROTC were given a $2,300 grant for "Flight Simulator Stations."

In the Air Force ROTC program, one of the courses being taught is the science of flight. Through a grant from the Air Force Association, Lt. Col. Valerie Lofland and MSgt Gary Morrone secured flight simulator software and equipment for their classroom. But budget sequestration last year resulted in severe Air Force funding cuts and the request for the necessary desktops, video cards and monitors to run the simulator software was denied.

Lt. Col. Lofland and MSgt Morrone applied for a grant to purchase the remaining equipment and run their simulator programs. These interactive, hands-on work stations, will teach students the aerospace science and math skills required to understand the principles of flight, aircraft motion and control, flight power and special disorientation.

NEF member Joan Doback thanked all teachers who go above and beyond and also spoke about the 33rd annual Borough Music Festival coming up on Friday night at high school auditorium. The NEF connection is that Robert Hughes, the high school band teacher, has been working for a year and a half to improve the music curriculum. Working with a foundation run by the sons of Leroy Anderson, band students have been learning about the life and works of the composer who lived in Woodbury CT. Some of Andersons compositions will be performed at the Borofest scheduled to begin at 7:00pm in the Davis Auditorium.

Thank you to the Naugatuck Education Foundation for their inspiring and ever-increasing support of education in Naugatuck.

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