by Kim Broberg
A wonderful example of how a single grant can affect the larger community is what Donna Rosso, current director of the Franklin Early Childhood Center (ECC), did with the Innovation Grant she was awarded last year from the city of Melrose when she was acting director. Rosso received a grant to purchase video training materials. These materials were used to train educators and parents in active engagement reading for the oral language development and teaching for preschool-aged children, a critical prerequisite for reading and writing. The impact has been far-reaching…
November 20, 2013, Melrose, Mass. — Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker with the red schoolhouse or maybe you’ve noticed a flock of plastic flamingos on your neighbor’s lawn and wondered, “What’s up?”
Well, these are two recent fundraising efforts of the Melrose Education Foundation (MEF). The Melrose Education Foundation seeks to enhance the educational experience of all students in the district by providing grant money to Melrose Public School educators.
The MEF earned its tax-exempt charity status in June and is in the midst of its first grant cycle, which is also receiving financial support from the city of Melrose’s Innovation Grants program. Melrose Public School educators can apply online until Nov. 29.
Many communities develop education foundations to tap into local contributors, including individuals and businesses, to help gain additional funds to enable public school staff to explore teaching and learning initiatives that are not covered by the school budget. Finding grants to pay for additional resources are becoming increasingly attractive to educators amid a constrained fiscal environment.
The grant funds can be used for all subjects and in many capacities, from teacher training and outside speakers, to teaching and learning tools. Educators who receive Melrose Education Foundation grants are required to pass on their knowledge to other teachers and to reach as many students across the district as possible.
A wonderful example of how a single grant can affect the larger community is what Donna Rosso, current director of the Franklin Early Childhood Center (ECC), did with the Innovation Grant she was awarded last year from the city of Melrose when she was acting director. Rosso received a grant to purchase video training materials. These materials were used to train educators and parents in active engagement reading for the oral language development and teaching for preschool-aged children, a critical prerequisite for reading and writing.
The impact has been far-reaching. More than 35 teachers at the Franklin ECC were trained, benefiting more than 280 ECC students. The new skills continue to be used and implemented.
Additionally, Rosso reached out to the parents of the ECC and provided training to families. She also organized and brought the new teaching skills to preschool teachers at the YMCA and Chime Time in Melrose. This enabled the city’s grant to reach many preschool-aged children across Melrose, allowing them to develop essential pre-reading and writing skills before entering kindergarten.
The benefits of this grant are particularly striking in light of the recent MCAS results that revealed Melrose students need to improve “open response” skills, where they respond to a passage of text through writing, and teachers need to continue to improve writing instruction.
The city of Melrose’s 2012 Innovation Grants were initiated by Mayor Dolan to enable Melrose to begin reaping the benefits of grant awards while the Melrose Education Foundation was being created. This year, the city has again committed $10,000 in grant funding, which will be administered by the MEF in addition to the foundation’s privately raised funds. The city is represented on the foundation board and on its grants committee by Mike Lindstrom, director of community services.
Angela Singer, English Department chairman at Melrose High School, also received an Innovation Grant last year. Singer created a professional development opportunity that more than 50 Melrose Public School teachers of English, foreign languages, social studies and science attended along with teachers from surrounding districts.
The two-day workshop focused on bringing the best practices of advanced placement-style training and teaching to all levels and areas of study for grades 6 through 12. This training also aligns with the Common Core State Standards. The intent is to provide new training for teachers that will allow for rigorous teaching skills and better learning environment for students at all levels.
The world is changing. We live with the expectation of technological advancement. Teaching methods are continually evolving. How does Melrose keep up? Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” The Melrose Education Foundation understands that educators have innovative and meaningful ideas. The grant funds offer a way to bring new learning into children’s lives and help prepare them for the future.
The Melrose Education Foundation grant application is available online through Nov. 29 and the grant recipients will be notified by Dec. 20. We encourage all families to ask their teachers if they’ve heard about these grants. More information is available at oldsite.melroseedfoundation.org.
Kim Broberg is a Melrose parent and a member of the Melrose Education Foundation Outreach Committee.