The Rockville Centre Education Foundation presented a check to the school district for $27,720 on Nov. 16, which will help fund seven new grant opportunities.
“Our mission is to raise money for innovative and enriching programs that go above and beyond what the curriculum can offer,” Mayda Kramer, the foundation’s president, told the Board of Education at its public workshop meeting last week, “or it seeds a brand new program that hopefully is successful, and the district will take it forward and continue to fund it.”
The education foundation is a volunteer-centric nonprofit that was created in 1991, with the goal of enhancing the district’s quality of education by providing financial resources for cutting-edge programs that go beyond the normal scope of the curriculum.
Jean Harris, a foundation director, said that over the course of more than 30 years, it has raised nearly $1 million for school programs.
“We consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to the district,” Harris said. “It’s all for the kids.”
Harris said that when the foundation was created, it held only one fundraiser in the spring, and it took a while for programs to be implemented the following fall.
In the hope of speeding up the process, the foundation introduced a second grant cycle last fall, to provide more opportunities to fund new programs throughout the school year.
In February, the foundation presented the district with a check for $14,933, which helped fund three new programs — a 3D food printer; the Artist’s Journey program, with Reggie Laurent; and a Library Media Center Maker Space at South Side Middle School — that were submitted during the 2022 fall grant cycle.
The money presented last week was raised during the 2023 spring grant cycle, and will help fund seven new district programs.
Nicole Moriarty, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said that foundation members have worked tirelessly to provide students with a little something extra each year.
“The ed foundation has been a wonderful partner with us in the education of all of our students here at the Rockville Centre schools,” Moriarty said. “We are so very grateful for the thought of having two grant cycles instead of one. We were able to do so much more in one year.”
A portion of the most recent funding was presented to Melissa Rice, a fifth-grade teacher at Watson Elementary, so students can attend a program at Commerce Plaza in Levittown, a simulated business community designed to teach kids employment skills and financial literacy by providing them with “actual” work experience.
Rice told the board that she first learned about Commerce Plaza from one of her daughter’s friends, who learned what it was like to work at Capital One Bank on a school trip.
“I got that grant in just in time, because I felt that every fifth-grader needed to experience the Commerce Plaza,” Rice said.
She added that what really appealed to her was that the program offers lessons for teachers to work on with students before they take part in the experience.
“We taught them how to write a check, what a business might need to get started, and we did a station rotation learning credit cards, loans and investments,” Rice said. “We were able to have these real conversations about financial literacy. I’ve always been a huge proponent of the DECA program at the high school and I love seeing what my former students do there, so it seemed like a natural thing to start at the end of elementary school.”
Another portion of the funding was presented to Freddy Rodriguez, a Covert Elementary teacher who works with the Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools team to bring the renowned Teatro Society of the Educational Arts Theatre to all five district elementary schools, to help teach Spanish through “obras,” or plays.
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in September and October, Rodriguez invited Teatro SEA to present its production centered on the iconic painter Frida Kahlo.
“I have always been a lover of art,” Rodriguez said, “and I know that through our art program here in Rockville Centre, the kids study Frida through her self-portraits, so they’re already coming with a background knowledge of who this person was, and then we were able to make lessons geared toward their specific topics.”
The production, “Los Colores de Frida,” gave students the chance to learn more about Kahlo and discuss her work. It also served as a springboard for bilingual education in the elementary school by exploring a range of topics in Spanish, including colors, emotions, cognates, art and heritage.
The five remaining grants, which were shared on the education foundation website, will also provide funding for a sustainable sculpture made with Makedo at the high school; The Caring Closet, at SSHS; a sensory wall at Watson Elementary; and two cargo and ladder net climbers at Riverside and Wilson elementary schools.
Following the presentation, the foundation announced plans for its fall fundraiser, “School-a-Palooza,” an online auction in which people can bid on anything from extra recess to courtside seats for a school basketball game. Anyone can also donate their winnings to eligible parents and students.
The auction will go live on Monday, and close on Dec. 4. For more information, visit TinyURL.com/School-Palooza.