By Rama K. Ramaswamy
Winston Churchill once said: "we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
In keeping with this sentiment, the Wellesley Education Foundation awarded the Wellesley Public Schools slightly more than $259,000 via their January 2018 grant cycle, announced a few weeks ago. A total of 33 grants were funded, including seven grants sponsored by Middlesex Bank for $43,333.64.
Erica Abate Recht, WEF co-President, said that WEF board members and the greater community had not only adhered to WEF's mission to advance innovation and excellence in the Wellesley Public Schools, but gone above and beyond by advocating in favor of making real change. “Giving to support education isn't only about donating, it's about making a difference,” she said.
The January 2018 Grants Subcommittee chairs and board members included, Beth Cook and Diane Campbell (co-chairs), Connie Burton, Michelle Foster, Lisa Hicks and Trish Lucas. Together, this team received and kicked off the 10-week grants review process. A few of the highlights for this spring's awarded grants included LED backdrop and stage lighting fixtures for WHS ($47,265, $20,000 of which was an anonymous donation towards this grant), biology and anatomy equipment for WHS ($25,608.24), middle school robotics development ($8,473.52), math support K-5 ($16,000), science program review K-5 ($10,000), and a 21st Century writing project for Wellesley elementary schools (Department Head for Elementary Literacy, $10,000).
WEF board member Yolanda Tong spoke about a particular grant that she was most grateful for, the 21st Century Learning with Ken Kay. “The second part of this funding was very in line with what parents care about, given their high attendance and participation at the Ken Kay presentation last fall,” said Tong. “I attended the session myself and was very interested to learn about the top skills employers are looking for and how these skills might be incorporated into our curriculum or change the way the curriculum is taught."
WEF co-President Recht highlighted her top-three 2018 grant picks.
She first mentioned the grant for biology and anatomy equipment for use in the WHS biology and biotechnology classrooms, including digital microscopes and functional human brain and joint models. The grant also includes funds for other equipment that will allow students to witness how muscles contract, how joints move, and how neurons interact, as well as allowing for enhanced opportunities for biotechnology research and instruction.
Recht next mentioned the grant bringing robotics equipment into WMS that will offer opportunities for robot programming and building for all grades at the middle school. This funding will allow access to variety of robotics models that will enhance student grasp of a variety of structural and mechanical concepts, including the physics of mechanical systems and the integration of mechanical systems with the logic and flow of programming.
Finally, she mentioned the grant for 21st Century writing in Wellesley’s elementary schools. This funding will launch the development of a new 21st Century project-based learning writing curriculum in Wellesley’s seven elementary schools. The project will strengthen and deepen Wellesley’s approach to writing instruction by shifting to an interdisciplinary model that promotes writing across all content areas.
Over the course of the last decade, Wellesley Education Foundation has awarded nearly $2 million in grants to the Wellesley Public Schools. WEF grants reach 100 percent of WPS students. For more information or to donate to WEF, visit https://www.wellesleyeducationfoundation.org.