The Port Washington Education Foundation (PWEF) proudly awarded their 2007 grants at a program that was attended by school board members, School Superintendent Dr. Geoffrey Gordon, district staff, past and present award recipients, teachers, students, interested community residents, state senator Craig Johnson and town council member Fred Pollack. Appropriately, the event took place in the music wing of the PWEF-funded Slade Performing Arts Center at Schreiber High School.. (Dot and Ed were there, as always). PWEF President Laura Mogul announced that at the end of this funding cycle the organization will have given away over $350,000. She said, "This is all thanks to the generosity of our community. Clearly, this community values public education."
Superintendent Geoffrey Gordon acknowledged the important contribution that the PWEF has made to the Port Washington schools. He also commented on the ingenuity of the teaching staff. He summarized by saying, "There is nothing that is out of reach as long as we can dream the impossible and work together to get there." Also paying tribute to the contributions of the PWEF and the grant recipients, as well as to those who submitted proposals and didn't get funded, was Christine Vasilev, president of the Port Washington Teachers Association. She said, "We celebrate the collaboration of community and schools in nurturing creativity and quality." Ellen Fox, PWEF vice president for Project Development, recognized the PWEF volunteers, in particular the teenagers who are so skilled at helping young students with homework in the after-school program. Fox gave a special acknowledgement to Dot and Ed Slade, who have been incredibly generous with their donations to the organization as well as to other community projects. Among other things, they were major contributors to the performing arts center, in which the meeting was held, the radio station appropriately named WDOT, the education support center and the upgrading of the track. Fox said, "They have been with us from the beginning." To the Slades, to whom she presented lovely floral bouquets, she said, "Thank you for trusting us."
Robin Sigman, PWEF vice president for grants, presented the awards. She said that this year there were a record number of grant applications, and a large number of repeat applications. She commented, "In general, these proposals are the highest quality we have ever received." She added that four programs that were initially funded by the PWEF will continue with funding from the school district, including Jeff Moss's "blues" program.
David Baylen, director of technology for the Port Washington school district, represented previous and current award winners. He pointed out that the technology department signs off on all the technology projects. A number of projects he described involve interactive "SMARTBoards," which this year have been funded at Schreiber with software for calculus and pre-calculus students (Jeff Lesser) as well as at Guggenheim and Sousa elementary schools (Alyssa Toscano and Kimberley Singh.) Also in 2007, two videoconferencing projects were funded: videoconferencing in the classroom at Weber Middle School (Carrie Ann Lindstadt-Iurka and Jackie Gilmartin) and videoconferencing in the elementary schools (all elementary PEP teachers). Other technology projects funded this year included a hand-held video microscope for the science lab at Sousa (Jeanne Zeh), an expansion of the "Digital Photo Suitcases" into Daly, Guggenheim and Manorhaven (Irene Virgilio et al.), and a keypad response system ("clickers") for physics students at Schreiber that enables responses to be instantly measured (Don Fish, Thom Johnson and Ani O'Brien).
An outstanding technology project that was refunded this year was Woody the Robot, whose creation by Schreiber students under the leadership of Don Schaefer, began three years ago with major support from the PWEF. Woody and the students competed in FIRST regional and national competitions. Baylen called Woody's performance "amazing," and said that a number of students who worked on the robot have been awarded scholarships to study engineering. Baylen also pointed to Schreiber's radio station WDOT, which he described as "probably the most impressive," now in its third year of operation. The radio station, under the leadership of Jeremy Klaff, streams on the web at www.portradio.org. Baylen also lauded that school's weather station, portweather.net, which also posts current information on the school district's web site - www.portnet.k12.ny.us (Dr. J. Chris Haring).
Baylen also pointed out that technology is used in many of the other projects. For example, he mentioned Art with a Message for Earth Day (Joy Jaworski and Kris Murphy) and the Writing Center, both at Schreiber (Evelina Zarkh). He said, "We are not talking about your ordinary computers and printers-these are state-of-the-art."
A new and innovative project in 2007 is the Art of Improvisation for String Instruments. Under the leadership of Diane Fish, there will be a one-day workshop for electric and acoustic strings with Mark Wood for the Weber Orchestra. Other new projects at Weber are Frontier Perspectives for the study of Native American and Anglo settler cultures (Jeff Moss, Linda Manzo and Linda Sims) and Engineers Teaching Algebra (Gail Femmel).
In the elementary schools, 2007-funded programs not previously mentioned include Storytime Theater (Elise May), Expressive Elocution (Elise May), the Rolling Science Library (Daly Compact Committee), A Night at the Museum of Natural History (Mariann Dragunas et al.), Portable Mini-Gym (Claudia Aliano-Levin et al.), School-Library Partnership to create curricular units using from the Local History Department (David Meoli et al.), Relational Aggression, workshops for girls on creating healthy relationships (Daly Compact Committee), and Sousa Skills Training Room to train teachers in working with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Jennifer Biblowitz, Donna Braum and Josephine Lacerenza) .
At Schreiber, PWEF funded Schreiber Stitchers for after-school knitters (Joan Bester), Clothes with Cultural and Historical Influence (Miranda Best), and Revealing Our Stories, where a group of Schreiber students from other cultures will be interviewed by art students to create a photo-journalistic documentation of their experiences (Kris Murphy, Joy Jaworski and Mark Graham).
For more information about the work of the committed volunteers who comprise the Port Washington Education Foundation and the dedicated teachers who create and implement the programs, visit the web site at www.pwef.org.