Portland Education Foundation Awards Grants to Teachers

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Portland Education Foundation (PEF) has awarded 12 grants to teachers in the Portland Public Schools.

“We want Portland educators to feel their hard work is supported by the broader community, beyond the school walls.  These grants are a way of recognizing educators’ efforts to innovate and helping to make that happen,” said PEF Vice President Laura Newman.

PEF President Mary Gross added, “One of the most rewarding things we do as trustees of this foundation is to give out money to fund innovation in the classroom.  I am astounded at how small amounts of money can have such big impacts directly to the students.”

Compared to the last grant cycle, PEF received double the amount of applications this year.  The winning projects are:

1.) Building Home Libraries - Hall Elementary School

This grant will help students and their families build libraries at home.  The project targets struggling readers who are socio-economically disadvantaged and those whose first language is not English.  Students will be provided with books to take home and share with their families, making time for reading and discussion as a way to connect with each other and improve their language skills.

2.) Protecting Our Ecosystem: Ocean and Pond Studies - Longfellow Elementary School

Students will conduct water quality studies at Baxter Woods Pond, the ponds at Evergreen Cemetery and the pond in the Longfellow School garden.  When studying oceans, students will take a field trip to Crescent Beach State Park to collect samples and study the ecosystem.  They will learn about the connection between clean water and animal life, the water cycle and water clarity.

3.) Animal Adaptations: A Chewonki Presentation - Lyseth Elementary School

Webbed feet, camouflaged fur or spines are all amazing ways that animals use adaptations to survive in the wild.  In this fun-filled presentation, kindergarteners will learn about adaptations, try on costumes, and see firsthand how live animals have adaptations that help them thrive in their habitats.  After the presentation, students will create their own animal with adaptations they make up.

4.) Art Van Visits West - West School

West School will partner with ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy program, to bring therapeutic art workshops to its elementary students.  Students will engage in creating art as a direct way to channel feelings, adjust to new circumstances and devise creative solution to problems.

5.) Early Risers Book Group - King Middle School

This grant will provide funding for some of the books used in King’s Early Risers Book Group, which meets weekly to discuss modern and traditional classics.  Students will meet with residents of State Street Nursing Home in February and March to discuss “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

6.) Highlighting the History of Evergreen - Lincoln Middle School

Working in collaboration with the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery, this service learning project will educate students and the greater community about historically significant sites within the cemetery.  Students will develop research skills to study the sites and produce informational pamphlets for distribution.

7.) Physical Science Hands On Activities - Lyman Moore Middle School

This grant will fund equipment for three, eighth-grade physical science activities: a thermal insulation design challenge, in which students design and build an insulating device to keep in heat produced by an incandescent light bulb; an interdisciplinary unit on the science of sailing and Maine sailing history, in which students engage with sailing history and design/build hulls and sails powered by a fan and raced in a tank, and a physics study with model rockets, in which students design and build rockets and measure their altitude and average speed.

8.) “Paige in Full” Workshops - Lyman Moore Middle School

Portland Ovations will present “Paige in Full”, a performance by Paige Hernandez blending poetry, hip hop, visual arts and live music to tell the story of a multicultural girl growing up in Baltimore.  Sixth and seventh graders will attend the performance.  The grant also funds two workshops with Hernandez at the middle school.

9.) The Art of Ecology - Casco Bay High School

This grant funds cameras to allow ninth grade art and biology students to record seasonal changes, use photos to help identify plants and create photo files on their computers used to inspire and create works of art.

10.) Indoor Estuaries - Deering High School

Indoor estuaries, a combination of a window boxes and aquariums, integrate a marine habitat with a terrestrial habitat, much like a salt marsh.  This grant helps to find the construction of twelve indoor estuaries for use by students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

11.) The Joy of Composting - Portland Arts and Technology High School

The funds from this grant will be used to buy cedar planks for the construction of compost bins by carpentry students.  Funds also will be used to purchase worm bins and worms.  The bins will be utilized in multiple ways by the school’s culinary, fast foods, early childhood education and greenhouse classes.

12.) Workshop and Conducting at All-City Orchestra Concert by Gunther Schuller - King Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Lyman Moore Middle School, Casco Bay High School, Deering High School, Portland High School

Gunther Schuller, an American composer, conductor and educator, will present a workshop and conduct at the Portland Public Schools’ All-City Orchestra in March.  The workshop is on Schuller’s “Adagio, an Ode to the Minor Second and Major Seventh” for string orchestra.  It will open to string students throughout the area, and will feature participation by members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, who will play alongside students and present master classes in their individual instruments.

Portland Education Foundation is a nonprofit founded in 2009 that is run by a volunteer board.  PEF works to support the Portland Public Schools by advocating for excellence in education, connecting schools and our community and supporting students and teachers.

Find out more about PEF.  portedfoundatgmail [dot] com (E-mail the foundation.)  Donations via PayPal may be made on the website.