The Port Washington Education Foundation (PWEF) announced the grant awards for the academic year 2004-5 at a ceremony and reception at the Port Washington Library. Seventeen new projects were funded for a total $24,000. In the foundation's three years of operation, this outstanding group of volunteers has awarded 50 grants totaling almost $60,000 to the Port Washington schools for educational projects. The attendees, who filled the auditorium, included members of the foundation, the grant awardees, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey Gordon, Assistant Superintendent Emma Fraser Pendleton (the liaison to the foundation), other representatives from the district and the schools, members of the board of education, elected officials, past award recipients, and other community residents. A representative from County Executive Thomas Suozzi's office presented a citation to the foundation "in recognition and heartfelt appreciation for its exemplary service to the community." Craig Johnson, himself a Schreiber High School graduate, brought greetings and congratulations to the group," as did Hal Dolinar on behalf of Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, saying "this organization has been instrumental in the educational growth of our schools." Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey Gordon, thanked the foundation not only for the help it gives our students, but for being a force for positive contribution in an environment where "we very often find issues of divisiveness."
In her introduction, Amy Bass, president and founder, called attention to the mission of the foundation, namely, "to acquire and distribute funds to enhance educational opportunities for all students in the Port Washington public school district ... support[ing] initiatives that are beyond the scope of the district's budget." She added in the way of explanation, "This is not a 'super PTA.' We are a community group of residents who want to advance the purposes of the school district." Bass went on to thank the individuals and organizations that have supported the foundation. She singled out a very special donor, who asked to remain anonymous. This person took $600 from her Bat Mitzvah gift money and gave it to the foundation, along with a very moving letter. After reading the letter to the gathering, Bass said, "You said 'wow,' and we said 'wow.' We were overwhelmed by the generosity of this young woman."
Robin Sigman, Projects chair, announced the 17 grant awards for the year 2004-5. She said that there was at least one PWEF program or enhancement in every school. The grants she said, involve collaboration among teachers, students and the community "to really make a difference." The current year grant awards are listed below.
20th Century Survivors: From Poland to Rwanda awarded to Kate Herz, Evelina Zarkh, and Jeremy Klaff. This project will involve discussions with notable Holocaust and Rwandan genocide survivors.
Xeriscape and Sculpture Courtyard awarded to Amelia Box, Mark Graham, National Art Honor Society Club. This project idea was generated by a student, Amelia Box. It will involve a student competition to design and install a Xeriscape sculpture garden in the Schreiber courtyards. Xeriscape is a systematic concept for saving water in landscaped areas. The undertaking is also supported by the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, who will help judge the contest.
Digital Video Production awarded to Luis Gallego, Judith Schutzman, and Erin Howard. At-risk students will produce digital videos in cooperative groups.
Computer Projection in the Art Classroom awarded to Joy Jaworski and Mark Graham. This grant provides a portable LCD projector to provide enhanced computer graphics education.
SAT preparation awarded to Ronni Smithline continues to subsidize the cost of an SAT preparatory course for students requiring financial aid.
The Blues awarded to Jeff Moss provides for blues artist Toby Walker to conduct workshops and performances that enhance the study of Afro-American history, poetry and music. Moss described how effectively Toby Walker works with children, engaging them, and even having them write their own blues songs.
Reading and Writing awarded to Mary Ann Leonard at Sousa. The grant will fund an "Author in Residence" program featuring Johanna Hurwitz. It will extend to all aspects of Language Arts.
Mentoring Program awarded to Elaine Ajello and the Daly Compact Committee to promote one-on-one relationships between staff and at-risk students. It is intended to increase self-esteem and social skills.
Bringing Yoga to the Classroom awarded to Ronni Aronow. The grant provides for yoga sessions for children at Manorhaven, Guggenheim and Salem schools to learn relaxation and concentration. Last year these classes were successfully presented at Daly and Sousa.
Barriers and Bridges: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us awarded to Kimberly Singh, Joan Brinkhuis, Laurey Brevig, James O'Brien, Lourdes Mergler, Claudia Levin, Joel Belser, Tessa Jordan, and Joseph Lennon. Si Kahn, social activist, songwriter, author and speaker will lead assemblies and workshops for fourth and fifth graders at Manorhaven School. They will involve issues of social justice, diversity, and conflict management.
Game Buddy Collection awarded to Lisa Castillo to purchase a game library at Salem. This activity is designed to strengthen reasoning skills and inter-grade relationships with "game buddies."
Digital Photography Suitcase awarded to Jeanne Zeh, Regina McLean, Barbara Mayez, Lisa Castillo, Irene Virgilio, and Maria Djurasovic to bring the art and science of digital cameras to the upper grades in all the elementary schools.
Book of the Month awarded to Ann Marie Pullicino and Karen Siegel-Smith. This award will provide five books appropriate to all levels to each Sousa classroom. The books will be accompanied with a choice of curriculum materials.
Sign Language awarded to Andrea Scheck. The Salem project will teach American Sign Language (ASL) to second year students. This learning is part of their Helen Keller study unit to promote literacy.
Cooking through the Cultures awarded to Alice Teepe, Julie Phillips, and Sheri Suzzan. The grant will be used for a portable "cooking lab" for kindergarten classes at Daly for hands-on experience cooking multicultural recipes.
Desktop Abacus awarded to Dennis Kortwright, Lori Garcia, Natale, and Heather O'Shea. These tools will be used to enhance K through 2 students' computational fluency and speed. The abaci will be provided to all schools.
Children's Garden awarded to Cindy Mies and Sandy Stoessel at Salem. The raised garden beds will be planted with seeds and bulbs, and is intended to enhance the study of butterflies. In particular, they will observe the butterflies' migration in the spring.
Julie Gross presented a report on the project for which she was funded last year: Improving time management and study skills classes. A consultant, Dr. Loerinc Helft, was hired to coach the students in these areas because it was found that the time spent on homework was considerably more than what the teachers estimated, and was a major source of stress for the students. Gross said that they evaluated the program and found that the students were, in fact, using the skills and implementing the tools that they had learned. She added that they are now looking at implementing this for freshmen, and would like to make it self-sustaining by identifying 11th and 12th graders who can serve as mentors.
These extraordinary teachers develop the grants on their own time, taking time out of their busy lives to provide enhanced educational opportunities for Port's children.
Amy Bass announced the Dessert Extravaganza Gala to be held on April 9, 2005 at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. For more information about these events or about the foundation visit their web site at www.pwef.org.