You don’t have to tell any teacher or school administrator that money for education is tough to come by these days. The stories of teachers dipping into their own personal finances to purchase school supplies and classroom materials is so prevalent that newspaper and television assignment editors refer to this as not even newsworthy. Coming from a family of teachers and administrators, I can tell you that teachers don’t have a lot of what business people call “disposable cash.” This lack of cash sometimes dampens creativity – but not in Bristol.
The Bristol Education Foundation (BEF) supports educational programs for all the citizens of the City of Bristol and provides a way to help improve the quality of public education above and beyond conventional academic funding from the City and other public sources. The Foundation in collaboration with the Bristol Board of Education and the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce funds and promotes innovative and educational endeavors aimed at improving learning, achievement and skill development; encouraging creativity and excellence in teaching; and expanding community involvement from individuals, businesses and civic organizations. Recently, the BEF handed 17 “mini-grants” totaling more than $14,126 to fund original worthwhile projects the school system simply couldn’t afford. Teachers in the Bristol school system were invited to submit unique and new ideas to make learning fun and more effective for today’s students.
Bristol should be very proud of these educators for coming up with new and creative ideas to teach the students in Bristol. It also shows how business and the educational system can work together to serve the All Heart City.
A Moment to Breathe Project | Kathryn Roberts | Bristol Eastern
This grant will support training provided by Mindful Schools, a non-profit organization dedicated to the integration of secular mindfulness in the learning environment of K-12 classrooms. Weekly Mindful meditations will take place at the beginning or end of class to help students release tension, stress and anxiety that interfere with learning. An after-school club will also be created for more students to participate in weekly Mindful meditations.
Breakout EDU and You! | Bridget Gohla | ACCESS
This grant allows the purchase of Breakout EDU kits, a puzzle box learning system, to be used by high school Special Education students and their mentors. They pair Special Education elementary school classrooms and students. The Special Education high school students coordinate a group of Special Education elementary students to work together to solve a puzzle and open the box while teaching and reinforcing executive functioning skills.
Building Capacity for Next Generation S
cience Instruction in Elementary Classrooms
|Corey Nagel & Mary Hawk |Bristol Central & Mt. View
This project provides supplies for elementary teachers to teach science and students to engage in meaningful scientific practices. In collaboration with high school science teachers, who have received training on Next Generation Science Standards, elementary teachers will be better prepared to use materials in ways to promote consistent science learning and teach science to students based upon newly adopted science standards.
CHMS Helping Hands Program | Kathryn Krawiec & Mariliz Fitzpatrick
This program is an experiential learning p
rogram with the SBF Animal Rescue that will provide students, receiving special education services, the opportunity to connect with animals to foster social and emotional growth as it relates to interaction with others and build self-esteem. There is a classroom component and site visits to the animal rescue.
Behaviors for Success! | Paige Flint | Mt. View
This grant allows for the ability to purchase Second Step Program Kits, a classroom based program designed to increase student success and decrease problem behavior by promoting social-emotional competence, to be used in Pre-K through second grade. With the new report card format asking teachers to rate students on social-emotional learning standards, this program will provide the tools teachers need to target certain skills and accurately rate students.
Hubbell Hound Explorers’ Huff and Puff STEM Challenge | Lisa Ayotte | Hubbell
Hubbell students and their families will participate in a school-wide “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) night. Science and reading activities wil
l be based on “The Three Little Pigs” where students will use various building materials to create structures to withstand the “Big Bad Wolf.”
Makerspace 2.0 | Marcy Deschaine | Mt. View
This grant funds improvement of the STEM Room utilized by all K through 5 students at Mt. View. The incorporation of a 3D printer will allow students to improve researching, problem solving, and collaborating skills by creating 3D STEM projects and assist with the science curriculum shift to NEXT Generation Science Standards.
One Book, One Team | Katie Mercieri, Paul Ryskowski, Jake Madden, Michelle Cantin | Chippens Hill
This project is aimed to increase reading achievement and enjoyment in all seventh grade students and staff by reading the same book, at the same time. Students will have the ability to connect their personal life to that of the main character. The book’s content allows for group discussions regarding the text, along with ties to science and social studies skills.
Only One You – The Path to Kindness | Karen Pileski & Jen Gura | West Bristol
This grant aids in purchasing the book Only One You, utilized by the entire school annually, to celebrate individuality and diversity. Students will then paint rocks, symbolizing their uniqueness in order to create a path representing their individuality in their community. The path will be added to when new students and staff enter the school.
Paws (Pause) for Reading | Lisa Ayotte | Hubbell
This initiative is a school-wide, incentive-based literacy initiative to increase reading at home. Students, upon completing selected books, based on their comprehension level, will write a short report that a guardian has signed off on and will earn a chance to win a small prize, with all reports being hung on the reading bulletin board at the school. Students may also have an opportunity to present their reports to their classroom peers.
Play Works | Holly Caruso-Pugliese| South Side
This grant helps purchase blacktop stencils in order to create a fun, colorful, and educationally-based play space for all students to use at recess. Once students learn the rules of the activity, they can learn and teach fellow students while being physically active. Other community groups, such as the scouts, can also use the blacktop space and benefit from learning and physical activity.
Shake it Like a Polaroid | Kristin Monaco & Gina Gallo Reinhard | Bristol Central
This project crosses disciplines and is a collaboration between the Art and World Language Departments. Students in both classes will develop a lesson based on Italian Renaissance art, share the lesson, recreate a famous piece of artwork, and create an art gallery using Polaroid cameras.
Social-Emotional-Behavioral Library | Kristen Cicchetti | Greene-Hills
This grant will fund creation of a Social-Emotional Behavioral library containing children’s books, activity manuals, online activities for staff to be able to teach and reinforce a range of social-emotional behavioral skills within the school. Students will learn the skills and techniques to improve their own behavior in a learning environment.
STEM Wonder Workshop | Marcy Deschaine | Mt. View
Students will learn coding, problem solving skills, and work together creatively with the use of “smart” robots. The robots, accessed by all students, will increase the technology in the STEM room. Students will utilize their knowledge from their core classes to complete science experiments, mathematics to calculate measurements and English to write final reports.
Tell Me Your Board | Terry Grant | Greene-Hills
Science students will be provided their own dry erase board to show their thought process, present their scientific findings, converse more easily in group projects – aligning with the Next Generation Science standards. These dry erase boards make the shift from teacher-directed to student-centered classrooms easier for students to organize their thoughts and receive instructive feedback.
Time for Technology! | Megan Lombardi | Greene-Hills
This grant allows for technology to be incorporated into kindergarten classrooms to increase reading and math literacy. Learning opportunities can be tailored to students’ needs and support further enrichment.
Virtual Reality in the English Classroom | Jennifer Plourde & Matthew Boissonneult| Bristol Central
This grant allows for virtual reality technology to be brought in to the high school English classroom. Students would be able to “see” what they are reading and have a more enriched sense of the environment where the story is taking place enhancing understanding and content.
For more information on this program, contact Sarah Mitchell, Bristol Board of Education – Community Communications Coordinator and the Bristol Education Foundation’s Secretary at 860.584.7043.
Mark Thomas has headed up marketing departments for OMC, Volvo-Penta, Invisible Fence, and Continental Airlines. He is the Marketing and Public Relations Specialist for the Bristol Development Authority. Also making a significant contribution to this blog was Sarah Mitchell, Community Communications Coordinator and the Bristol Education Foundation’s Secretary. The Bristol Development Authority (BDA) works to improve the physical, economic, and social environment of the Bristol community by serving as the primary governmental organization dedicated to promoting commercial development, to preserving and improving the City’s housing stock, and to securing and administering the resources required to carry out these goals. The BDA is overseen by an appointed nine-member Board of Commissioners which governs economic and community development policies for Bristol.