For teachers in the , the BMEF offers the unique opportunity to think outside of the box—and budget—to engage students in different ways.
"We are excited about the grants this year," said Liz Susman Karp, co-president of the Manor Education Foundation, explaining the process allows "teachers to say, 'What's on our wish list? What would I really love to have here and do? What would be a really great addition to our curriculum?'"
Karp said the grants often serve as a way for teachers to invest in programs, supplies or technology that might be able to "reach a different kind of learner."
Representatives from the BMEF begin the grant process in the fall by attending faculty meetings at the three schools.
"Grant Committee co-chairs talk with [teachers] and the administrators and let them know about the grant cycle," she explained. "It usually starts in January and runs for six weeks—during that time, grants are submitted to us."
At that point, the grant committee members meet with the superintendent and administrators to discuss the applications.
Before the applications come to a vote, "We thoroughly research the grants," said Karp.
For example, this year, a teacher who requested the Smart Response System requested a salesperson from the company provide a demo of the program. Teachers and committee members attended the demonstration before voting on the grants.
The system, said Karp, "assess with the teachers how kids are grasping a particular concept."
Additionally, the Singapore math program that was used last year will continue, with additional training opportunities in 2011-12.
A new pilot program targeting first and second grade students with ADD and ADHD will also be instated in the fall.
"It's a particularly cutting edge grant," said Karp, "There are desks you can stand at; it really helps kids who have trouble sitting still refocus."
This type of exploratory initiative is "what's so great" about the foundation, according to Karp.
"We're pretty lucky to be a helpful positive force in the community," she said.
Here's a list of the 2011—12 grants from the Briarcliff Manor Education Foundation:
"A Look into Space" (telescope supplies) — $881
Supplies to allow and students to use an existing telescope to enable viewing of the moon during the day and opportunities for evening activities. Telescope would be available for use by all BHS and BMS science teachers and their classes.
Florescent Minerals — $352
Purchase of florescent minerals for use in middle and high school science classes. These will engage students and foster their interest inrocks and minerals.
Books on CD to Enhance Literary Skills — $2,015
This grant will allow first graders to experience literature through CDs, rather than just through the pages of standard books.
Alternative Seating Desks — $9,000
Pilot project to equip a second grade classroom with desks offering alternative seating options to address issues of inattentiveness and high levels of distractibility.
Digital Cameras — $309
Purchase of two digital cameras for kindergarten to facilitate communications with parents and to aid in classroom with curriculum, creative writing projects and sequencing activities.
Smart Document Cameras — $1,398
Purchase of two Smart Document Cameras to be used to take pictures for projection on the SmartBoard in kindergarten classrooms. Will be used with the new reading curriculum and allow for more student interaction..
Singapore Math Training — $2,300
Additional training for all Todd and 6th grade teachers to explore this method further and gain a closer look at teaching this step-by-step, visual method of translating a word problem into a diagram or model to understand and solve the problem.
Sign Language Program — $2,800
Continuation of the kindergarten Sign Language Program funded by the BMEF in 2009. A Sign Language instructor will provide half-hour sessions of sign language instruction and activities twice a month for all kindergarten classrooms. The PTA will fund $1000 of this program in partnership with the BMEF.
Greenhouse Club Jerseys — $2,205
Jerseys for Greenhouse Club members at BMS. Designed by students and worn on the day of the club and at events. Will promote concept of "greener living" and jerseys will be recycled and passed down to each year.
Smart Response System — $2,353
An exciting and innovative piece of technology, the SMART Response system works with SmartBoards using individual student remotes to allow middle school students to participate in classroom assessments throughout lessons. Teachers can compile information into a chart as a way of assessing the overall class performance on a topic.
Academia Irrigation System — $2,400
Installation of an irrigation system in the BMS Academia Outdoor Classroom to properly supply it with water. This will help to keep Academia looking beautiful and minimize unnecessary time of students, parents and teachers to attend to water issues over the summer.
iMac Computer — $1,368
Purchase of an iMac computer for use in the Arts Program at BHS. Students will be able to use to create digitalportfolios of their art for in class projects and for college applications.
“Day in Clay” Program — $3,665
A clay program, utilizing a visiting artist, at Todd to foster experimentation with a variety of building techniques while students learn to consider their ideas and adapt to change along the way to creation.
“A Christmas Carol” Field Trip — $920
BMEF funding was provided in conjunction with PTA and Boces for seventh grade students to attend production of "A Christmas Carol."
Grants Total: $31,786