2018-2019 NEF Grant Award Winners

Wise owl

Congratulations to this year’s Natick Education Foundation grant award winners!

Nature Nurtures

Natick Preschool
Claudia Price

Summary: Preschoolers will develop social-emotional skills such as empathy and compassion by caring for schoolyard wildlife: Monarch butterflies. The children will plant and maintain the Monarch’s only host plant – Milkweed. The Monarchs will be raised from eggs and caterpillars found on Milkweed plants. When the Monarchs emerge from their chrysalis, they will be tagged with Monarch Watch migration tags and released. Data will be sent to Monarch Watch for their research on migration patterns. This project will be done at the NHS preschool and the Lilja preschool sites.

Johnson Student Led School Store

Johnson Elementary
Jennifer Dannin with Jordan Hoffman, Christina Maryland, Jed Stefanowicz

Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a hands-on project for 4th grade math students at Johnson Elementary School. First, Title One math students will take the lead, using their developing math skills to design, open and run a school store. This year-long project will give context and meaning to their math curriculum, and build agency and ownership for students who most need academic recognition. This project is based on a learning principle called Project Based Learning (PBL). PBL provides students opportunities to grapple with challenges and experiences. It creates relational learning where struggle is key and students take risks as they realize understanding for themselves. All 4th grade students will take part in related curriculum-based activities involving the store. This grant will act as seed funding for a math-based school store pilot program.

Coding, STEM and STEAM Exploration

Kennedy Middle School
Karin Cloutier

Summary: Students need more time with project-based units that are STEM/STEAM-focused. This grant will fund two sets of tools (Sphero and Littlebits) that will give students a variety of experiences related to coding, robotics and computer programming. Projects using these materials are aligned with the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science Frameworks and address learning goals related to Computational Thinking (CT). Fifth and sixth grade students will conduct STEM and STEAM-based projects with these materials during their technology classes, learning to code and developing the skills they will need in high school and for the high-tech jobs of the future. These tools will also be used in a new after school coding club at Kennedy.

Grade 5 Mock Caldecott & Mock Sibert Award Analysis

Wilson Middle School, Kennedy Middle School, Brown Elementary and Ben-Hem Elementary
Ilse O’Brien with Kathleen Anderson, Jennifer Marchione, Kirstin Sokol, Elisa Mitchell, Jennifer Brenneman, Rebecca Schneekloth, Lauren Carter, Laura Lopes, Heather Bishop

Summary: All grade 5 students across the district will read and analyze current picture books using professional literary criteria for the Caldecott Medal and Sibert Medal for literature. They will write opinion essays on their top choices to win either award, and share the books and their opinion essays with 4th grade students. This project began in one classroom last year, and with NEF support will be expanded to all 5th graders in the Town of Natick — 10 teams at Kennedy and Wilson, for approximately 500 students. We will share our work with 4th graders at Brown and Ben-Hem (approximately 500 additional students). By the end, this project will reach 1000 students district-wide.

Create, Learn and Build with PVC

Wilson Middle School
Steve Peck

Summary: Special education students in the Access program will participate in project-based learning to create and build helpful projects that will benefit students and staff members throughout Wilson MS. Students will work collaboratively to design and build multiple PVC pipe constructed projects and build their math, communication, writing and drawing skills through functional learning. This is the second year of this project. Last year, students built 8 different items that are used by classmates and staff members at Wilson. Projects included a water table, sensory station, recycle bin for library, hose wrap, bird feeders and a few others.

Wilson Mentor Program

Wilson Middle School
Daniel Hausermann

Summary: One of Wilson’s school improvement goals is to increase student connectivity with staff members. As such, Wilson staff members have been asked to volunteer to be partnered with a student in need of a mentor. Students are given one staff member who they meet with regularly throughout the school year in hopes of building a strong relationship. The program sponsors monthly mentor events with fun activities for mentor partnerships to attend like a cooking competition, fun science experiments, watching the dress rehearsal of the play, and a petting zoo at the end of the year. The goal is to give students who are having a difficult time making connections at least one staff member that they feel they can go to in a time of need. This grant will support Mentor Program activities throughout the year.