The Highland Park Educational Foundation’s (HPEF) Annual Spring Fundraiser is coming up this Saturday, June 3. In line with the HPEF’s dollar-in, dollar-out approach, all funds raised go to support teacher-led initiatives in the Highland Park Public Schools. The foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is betting on a big crowd at its “Casino Night” but thanks its friends in the community who are unable to attend but generously make a donation to show their support.
HPEF grant proposals are developed by Highland Park Public Schools teachers and staff. The HPEF grant committee then works with district administration and the applicants and carefully weigh each proposal. Final approval is granted by the Board of Education.
The aim is to encourage new ideas, to expand the classroom experience, and to enhance the student learning experience. Often, HPEF grants provide necessary support for classroom projects that were otherwise funded out-of-pocket by the teacher.
Last year the HPEF helped to fund important projects at all grade levels, ranging from support for books and projectors, to author visits, to special field trips and performances. HPEF grants routinely support groups such as DECA, Model UN, and the Robotics Club.
National September 11 Memorial and Museums Visit This grant provides $1800 for High School seniors to visit the September 11 Memorial and Museum in May 2017. It covers bus transportation as well as entry fees for those students whose families cannot afford them. The trip was prepared by Social Studies teacher Craig Girvan.
Projecting the Future in Art
Irving art teacher Michele DeMarco received $605 in funding for a projector that allows better viewing and understanding of art theory and the work of the world’s great artists. The technology can be used to present student created art and support concepts in math, science, geography, and literacy that the teacher explores through art.
Life Skills through Legos
Bartle teacher Nicole Stahl has created a curriculum involving multiple level Lego sets to help students learn perseverance and ultimately to challenge their creativity in developing their own Lego creations. Students will work individually and collaboratively in a ‘design center’ area of the classroom. The innovation and problem solving aspects are tied to the science standards for engineering.
Playground Building Blocks for Irving School
HPEF has contributed $3500 or half of the cost of a set of large bright blue building blocks that can be used indoors or on the playground. The sets offer endless opportunities for creative construction as students from prekindergarten through first grade work together in making structures from these 105 pieces.
Mobile STEM Education Kits
Teacher Theresa Schaefer-Dolan has received HPEF funding to develop some 15 different portable STEM exploration kits for use in Irving School classes around science, engineering and math topics. An example of project-based learning, the kits provide opportunities for exploration and problem-solving as students record data and complete observation notes and analysis. The kits will be created with assistance from a range of teaching and supervisory staff.
Leopard Gecko for Third Grade Classroom
Bartle third grade teacher May Lewis thought her students’ desire to have a classroom pet would help teach some science lessons in the study of living organisms, their needs, habitats, and means of survival.
DECA Registration and Dues for Regions, State and International Conferences
HPEF was able to support the efforts of the DECA program involving some 80 high school students with a grant of $2500 to cover registration and dues at several conferences and competitions. The DECA program involves entrepreneurship, community service, financial literacy and other real world skills for a large number of our high school students.
HPHS Robotics Club
HPEF was able to provide $1,000 to the robotics club for a range of equipment they will need this year to develop projects for competitions that require skills in engineering, physics, design, as well as budgeting and promotion.
Music in the Parks Festival and Adjudication Trip
Middle School music program students have participated in this Hershey Pennsylvania festival in recent years with much success. This year HPEF was able to provide a grant of $2,000 to assist those students whose families cannot afford the trip. Teacher Keith Presty noted that it is an experience where students receive “valuable, authentic feedback from adjudicators in the music field.”
Camp Bernie Outdoor Education Program
This annual three day trip to the wilds of northern New Jersey is where fifth-grade students learn awareness of the natural world as well as skills in leadership, communication, and communal responsibility. “Decision-making, inquiry, problem-solving, an understanding of geography.…are a few of the competencies taught/reinforced through outdoor environmental education.” HPEF has supported the Camp Bernie program for more than ten years. It is our signature program and the $8,000 annual grant covers the costs for those families who cannot afford the trip.
If you’re interested in attending the fundraiser or making a donation, please go to the website: www.HPEFNJ.org