By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – The Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation (LEEF) announced its 2013 grant awards at a ceremony at Longmeadow High School on Jan. 16.
LEEF Publicity Media Chair Joseph Aberdale stressed the importance of the organization, whose generosity goes to provide supplemental educational programs, tools and training for students and educators in the district, stating the additional opportunities are a must with heightened expectations and changing standards.
“Our educators today have greater demands placed on them than ever before. Everyone has high expectations of you,” he said to the group of award winners in the audience. “We want you to provide our children, whom President [John F.] Kennedy called ‘our greatest natural resource, the best hope for our future,’ with the knowledge and skills required to become educated, productive citizens in a complex and ever changing world.”
Williams Middle School teacher Anna Gelinas spoke to the excitement shared by teachers and students the opportunities LEEF grants provide.
“That first grant changed the way I teach,” she said. “I remember when LEEF was just establishing itself. We were so excited by the possibilities and as soon as the grant process was ready, I was one of the first to apply. The excitement and the potential for new ideas to engage students adds an energy in the building.
“The greatest impact I have seen on the kids is they are actively engaged,” she added.
In giving out $103,502 in grants this year, LEEF’s contributions since its inception in 2002 is now closing on $1 million with $974,600 given out, Aberdale said.
“When I talk to other educators from other districts that we received $103,000 in grants, they are absolutely amazed and jealous and surprised,” Superintendent Marie Doyle said. “That really is the result of the hard work of many people.”
Beth Renola of Blueberry Hill School received awards for two of her grants – Automaticity and Fluency RAVE-O Program and International Dyslexia Conference. Lauren Heaton (Multisensory Instruction for Kids with Language Learning Difficulties, Dyslexia and Specific Learning Disabilities in Reading), Silvia Scott (The World at Our Fingertips – SMART Board for Blueberry Hill School Third, Fourth and Fifth Grade) and Maureen Yelle (Landmark Summer Outreach) also earned grant awards for Blueberry Hill.
Marcie Kearing (Laptop Cart) and Laura Giuggio (Technology Tailblazers) received grant monies for Center School.
Williams Middle School educators Elizabeth Canlon (Meeting the Needs of the 21st Century Learner), Kathleen Lawson (Broadway Teachers Workshop) and Tracy Bradshaw (Chrome Computer Cart) were all given grants, while Pam Novak (Laptops for Science), and the group of Cara Crandall, Maryellen Gallant, John Wills and Susan Newton (Laptops for Seventh Grade Team Use) received funding for Glenbrook Middle School.
Longmeadow High School’s Robert O’Connell and Janet Smith Coyne received grant funding for The Applied Mathematics Laboratory Classroom and Scope It Out!, respectively.
Lucy Shrenker’s grant, String Bass Access for Elementary Instrumental Music Students, will benefit students at Wolf Swamp, Center and Blueberry Hill schools. Daniel Albert also received funding for Glenbrook and Williams middle schools’ Band Day 2014.