NEF’s grants to ARHS: Civil Discourse, Winds of Change, Unleveled History, and Growing the Center

by beth on October 10, 2018

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Above: Northborough Education Foundation’s latest round of grants will help the Algonquin Writing Center grow and support projects at Algonquin including ones fitting this year’s theme “Small World, Global Students”.

Last month, the Northborough Education Foundation gave out grants for 20 programs in Northborough’s K-12 schools. (I just read about the announcement thanks to Southborough Wicked Local.) Since, five of those grants are specific to Algonquin Regional High School, I’m sharing those details below.

NEF posts its mission as funding:

extraordinary curriculum and staff development projects, student services and activities, special programs, equipment purchases and other efforts in order to foster creativity and add to the excellence of the Northborough student experience.

According to the website, the foundation promotes a theme each year:

Applications do not need to relate to the yearly theme, but it is presented in an effort to inspire unique ideas. This year’s theme is Small World, Global Students and many of the following grants touched on that theme

Five of the grants were awarded to the following programs at Algonquin Regional High School:

Fostering Civil Discourse in Social Studies Classrooms
In light of the pending Massachusetts legislation that will realign the Social Studies curriculum and add a civic engagement graduation requirement, Social Studies teachers are looking for new and innovative ways to encourage civic action and civil discourse in their classrooms. This project sponsors a partnership with Facing History and Ourselves for professional development to train teachers in fostering constructive dialogue around controversial topics and to build the foundations of the soon-to-be mandated civic engagement curriculum. By bringing together Social Studies teachers from the middle schools and high school to train with Facing History, they hope to establish norms and instructional practices around civic engagement and dialogue that will be present throughout the secondary education experiences of Northborough students.

Winds of Change: Renewable Energy Conversion & Meeting New State Standards
Students enrolled in Physics learn about electricity, magnetism, and energy needs. The kits purchased with this grant will allow them to design and develop wind turbine blades and test them on a scaled wind turbine in the classroom. The students will be able to analyze results by seeing voltage output, lights lighting up, and sounding buzzers providing tangible, immediate feedback that is similar to real-life applications. They will develop lab reports which will analyze results and develop analysis skills based on the results.

Unleveled History Success Kits
This grant will provide High School US History 1 students with reusable, laminated timelines that they can refer to during open response writing, class activities, tests, and other assessments. These timelines will give all students a base of people, places, and events to draw from as they build their skills in writing, speaking, arguing, and cooperating.

Think Tank
Algonquin Regional High School will be turning one of its standard classrooms into a “Think Tank”. This grant provides the Algonquin Business Department the opportunity to purchase furniture to encourage students to create, innovate and collaborate. The classroom will transform into an active learning space for students with the objective to facilitate social learning by designing spaces where students can easily connect and collaborate.

Growing the Center: Writing Center as a Center for Writing
Since opening in December 2016, with help from an NEF grant, the Algonquin Writing Center has expanded in staff, services, and scope. In three semesters, they have blossomed from fifteen students meeting after school in the directors’ classrooms to a staff of over forty who have tutored, on average, over three writers per day. They have expanded their reach by including one-on-one sessions during the day. They have created a rent-a-tutor service in which teachers can ‘hire’ a tutor to come into their classes and work with the writers in real time as they endeavor whatever writing project they’re tackling. This grant will fund additional resources needed to continue to expand tutoring opportunities and possibilities for the writing center.

NEF’s website shared more details on the September award ceremony and the funding that made it possible: 

NEF awarded $68,000 in funds to 20 grant recipients during a special ceremony held at the Northborough Free Library on Sept. 18, 2018.

Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson attended the ceremony, along with representatives from each school and the Northborough Free Library.

NEF Grant Committee Chair, Susan Ogar recognized the significance of the continued support of corporate sponsors, members of the community and schools, and the organization’s many volunteers who help make the fundraising events successful. A special thanks was given Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss of SullivanKreiss Financial, for generously becoming the 2018 NEF Platinum Sponsor. NEF was also proud to present a $1,000 scholarship, generously donated by Main Street Bank, to our first “I love Northborough” Scholarship Contest winner, Megan Harrington.

Fundraisers in 2017-18 included the Applefest Gala, Golden Apple Appreciation Gifts, Trivia Night, Gala Jr., and the Mother/Daughter Princess Tea Party. . Proceeds from these events enabled NEF to fully or partially approve funding for the grants funded this year.

For more on the other grants awarded for Northborough K-8 schools, click here.

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