This year between the Mini (less than $1500) and Mega-Grant programs, the Harvard Community Education Foundation awarded funding for 14 Mini-Grants and 5 Mega-Grants totaling $38,669. Congratulations to the teachers and staff who took the time and made an effort to submit an application, especially during these trying times dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Harvard Community Education Foundation’s (HCEF) Mini-grant committee & Mega-grant committee are pleased to announce the following winners for the 2020-2021 academic school year:
MINI-GRANT AWARDS – $13,259 TOTAL AWARDED
Life Cycle Study-Washington; Valorie Revere-$300-This grant will fund the cost of ladybug houses for each classroom, ladybug larvae, and a cup of caterpillars for each classroom. The students will be using their observational skills and will continue to build their descriptive vocabulary through the experience. They will be able to categorize the types of insects and widen their factual knowledge. Learning about life cycles is an important general concept. Observing, explaining, and illustrating life cycles can be an important milestone for children that can help children understand the world around them and to connect them with nature.
Fitness Skillastics Starter Pack – REACH Program at Crosby, Jefferson, and Junior High; Courtney Fejedelem – $750.34 – The Fitness Skillastics Starter Pack is a “grab-and-go” activity kit designed for after school programs, that includes lesson plans and equipment so teachers can easily implement a physical activity program. These kits are evidence-based and contain social-emotional learning aligned activities. It can be used at all of the REACH program sites to incorporate fitness and physical activity programming. The activities promote physical fitness, communication, teamwork, following directions, and taking turns in a fun and positive environment.
Physical Education Growth – Jefferson; Casey Seyller – $1375 – This project will allow a revamping of the physical education program with specialized equipment that will increase participation and be more inclusive of all students, and more appropriate for age levels. The funds will purchase 24 indoor/outdoor scooters, as well as the storage rack. This will impact al 4th and 5th-grade students, as well as the adaptive physical education special education, needs students. This will provide fun, safe play during physical education time, while also helping students with their leg and core development.
English Language Arts Escape Room – Junior High; Deborah Widzisz – $500 – This grant will fund the cost of 4 escape room kits that will allow the students to collaborate while reviewing language arts concepts. The kits review vocabulary, characterization, plot elements, figurative language, and more. This will engage students in a more effective and fun way! Escape rooms give students motivation to learn while collaborating and connecting with the material, which will impact all students at the Junior High.
Commission Project – High School, Junior High, & Jefferson; Korey and Erika Coffer and Lindsey Boyette – $1000 – This grant will help to fund the purchase a new band piece commissioned (written) by a Brian Balamages, a well-known composer, for the District 50 Spring Band Concert in May 2021. This project will expose every student in the band program to the commission process. The students may also have the opportunity to rehearse with the composer and talk with him via Skype. This piece may be published with the Harvard Unit School District 50 as its commissioner.
4th Grade Field Trips – Jefferson; Becky Buckley – $1,500-The grant will partially pay for the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford and the Milwaukee Zoo field trips for the 4th-grade students. The trip to the museum allows students to connect concepts they have learned throughout the year while participating in ‘hand-on’ activities. The students participate in a roller coaster physics class. Students construct roller coasters using foam tubing marbles to learn about force, energy, and motion. Students are able to experiment with the properties of matter, force, and energy. Many of our students have never been to a zoo. During this trip, they are able to connect classroom science lessons with actual observations of the animals. Key components are adaptations, habitats, survival skills, body structure, predator and prey, and their environments.
Flexible Seating Implementation – Crosby; Lisa Chupich, Mary Wieman, Brad Winter, & Rebecca Robistow – $1495.66 – This grant will fund flexible seating options for the special education classrooms. Flexible seating is critical to enhancing learning across all ages. It allows students to easily change their location and position as needed, giving students choices about their physical classroom space, which teaches them high order thinking skills. Flexible seating allows movement, such as rocking, bouncing, leaning or standing which increases oxygen flow to the brain, keeping young minds more alert and focused, while helping to keep them calm and more productive. It also allows for more effective classroom collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
Trebisky Quiz Answer Game Buzzer System – Junior High; Deborah Widzisz – $240 – This grant will fund 2 Trebisky Game Buzzer Systems, which will promote active learning by incorporating student involvement in instructional activities. The buzzer system will enable teachers to keep students interested and mix-up the classroom routine. Teachers can host math quizzes, test vocabulary words, run spelling bees and more as students use the buzzer buttons to be the first to respond. This game system will make learning reinforcement fun and engaging to all students.
Magnetic Dry Erase Whiteboards with Magnetic Letters – Crosby; Kristi Juarez – $692.41 – This grant will supply magnetic dry erase whiteboards with magnetic letters. The students can build words with magnetic letters and write words using their syllables, and manipulate the letters in the words. They can also be helpful for word reading, spelling, or dictation. They can also be used to practice math facts. This project will be useful for individual or group use and will be used multiple times per week.
Kindergarten Field Trip to Rockford Discovery Center- Crosby; Shanna Peceniak – $1240 – This grant will fund the Kindergarten field trip to the Rockford Discovery Center. There, students will explore valuable hand-on learning experiences that align with the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) as well as the Common Core Standards. They will explore spotlight energy, the human body, simple machines, forces, motion, astronomy, weather, agriculture, dramatic play, and light exhibits. The students will be able to apply what they have learned in the classroom as they explore the exhibits at the museum. The exhibits will provide a deeper understanding of the concepts learned through STEM-based projects throughout the year.
Learning Spanish is Fun – Crosby; Angela de la Rosa Pineda – $800 – This project will supply manipulative Spanish resources that motivate students to learn Spanish in a fun way. This includes games than enhance student’s understanding of sounds, letters, sight words, upper and lower case, as well as other Kindergarten standards. It will allow for a more active role in the teaching and learning process. This will help to improve foundational skills which are essential at early ages. As a result, this may positively impact student testing scores.
Crosby Elementary Store – Crosby; Erin Brady & Jennifer Johnson- $1500 – This grant will fund the Crosby Elementary Store with ReadyGen curriculum and STEM activities. Students in every grade earn Crosby Cash for exhibiting appropriate behaviors in school. Students can save their cash to exchange it for coupons, toys, and activities at this store. The school store is an initiative for highlighting positive behaviors and school expectations for being respectful, responsible, and safe. Students are driven to purchase items or participate in the teaching activities, so they work hard to display positive behaviors throughout the school year
Incredible Bats – Crosby; Erin Brady, Jennifer Johnson, Michelle Bezares, & Kim Differding – $365 – This is an in-house field trip that allows student interaction with a variety of live animals pertaining to our ReadyGen Unit characters. It includes a one hour PowerPoint presentation with images, echolocation calls, and a short video clip showing bats eating a variety of foods. Along with bats of the world, students will also see slides of native species in Illinois and discuss the difficulties facing our natural species and what can be done to conserve them. Following the presentation, there will be a live, interactive fruit bat display. This will allow students an authentic experience learning about nocturnal animals.
Stem Buddies – Jefferson and Washington; Mary Ellen Jones & Monica Murillo – $1,500 – This grant will fund supplies for all fifth-grade students and all of the pre-K classes to participate in cross-age, learning partnerships which leverage the mentor/mentee relationship to achieve academic and social-emotional learning for both Jefferson and Washington students. STEM offers students hands-on opportunities to collaborate, lead, develop a growth mindset, and of course learn. Activities will be planned to allow “scientific investigation” through multifaceted activities that offer learning that follows the Next Generation Science Standards for all students.
MEGA-GRANT AWARDS – $25,410.00 TOTAL AWARDED:
Focus/Motor Room-Washington; Cheryl Stasiek Ashburn – $4951 – This grant will provide specifically designed space to facilitate restorative processes for very young students who need a break to refocus or are not meeting school expectations. The space provides a range of stimuli to help students develop and engage senses to allow them to “reset” their nervous system which may have been overstimulated in the classroom environment. This room will provide staff and students with a safe area where students can focus on themselves so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others. The equipment includes an autism swing stand (C-stand) with a linear motion bar swing and a “flying purple people eater” swing, a fold & go trampoline, and a kid garage.
Professional Grade 3D printer-Jr. High; Steve Darschewski – $5000 –This grant will purchase a Fusion 3, 3D printer, and supplies so Jr. High students can receive a hands-on approach to design thinking and which demonstrates to them the application of technology and engineering in the classroom through the use of a 3D printer. Students can be taught about the use & development of prosthetics in medicine, can make textbook models of molecules, can create busts of historical & literary figures, make 3D printed snowflakes, etc. Students can have their “eyes opened” by the 3D printing experience and the various practical applications for its use in many fields.
Go Zone/Sensory Room – Junior High; Tom Cardamone & Nikki Pierce – $2365 – This grant will provide equipment for a sensory room that provides direct therapeutic benefits to students with a variety of special needs and to some students who have sensory challenges but who may not be educationally identified as needing special education services. This room is for students who benefit from a “break” within their day, to use tools to regulate their sensory experience, which in turn will regulate their behavior/emotional experience. It is used to facilitate self-organization, self-regulation, relaxation, and sensory awareness, in order to integrate a student back into the classroom. The following equipment will be purchased: wall-mounted kicking pad, soft sensory rocker chair, weighted blankets, a body sock, crash, and general floor mats, small trampoline, and a “bubble” tube.
Heart Rate Monitors – High School; Sara Weaver – $8,094 – This grant will pay for 90 Polar heart rate monitors, 50 replacement armbands, 3 charging docks, fitness-tracking software, and training for the high school PE teachers. Via the use of these heart monitors, students will come to understand the overall importance of heart health, as well as learn the importance of being physically active at different levels of intensity. It will give students the opportunity to develop lifelong health & fitness habits. PE teachers will also have an objective method to assess student heart health and be able to individualize/personalize instruction based on each student’s cardio/respiratory fitness in PE courses. Once implemented, PE teachers will utilize heart rate monitors and fitness tracking software for years to come.
Funding for External Grant Matching – HCEF & District 50 – Mimi Book & Mary Cooke – $5000-This money is set aside to be used as partial matching for an external grant application currently being written. The grant total request is for approximately $20,000 of outside funding to be matched by the Foundation’s $5000 for a total of $25,000 to be used for expanding our STEM program offerings in the science curriculum for Jr. High on up. Experiential hands-on robot building and programming are one of the goals. STEM engages students and provides opportunities for critical thinking, problem-solving, creative and collaborative skills, and establishes connections between the school, workplace, and community.