PWEF awards educational grants

Ana Espinoza, Assistant News Editor


Administrators from throughout the school district gathered in the Slade Black Box Theater to await announcements from the Port Washington Education Foundation (PWEF).  On Oct. 11, the PWEF held its annual awards ceremony, announcing 26 district-wide grants for the 2012-2013 school year.  The seven grants awarded to Schreiber included funding for new SMART technology, projectors, the reopening of the TV studio, and projects to enhance cultural learning.

“The PWEF awards grants with a K-12 perspective,” said Principal Mr. Ira Pernick. “Teachers and administrators from all schools in the district are eligible.”

Many of the grants provide funding for new technology, such as interactive projectors for the music and English departments and SMART boards for ESL and geometry classes.  The PWEF also funded the reopening of the TV studio, a new TV production program, and an art department project.

“Grants are a wonderful way to bring enrichment to the curriculum, work with visiting artists, partner with groups outside the school, and build ties to writing and literacy that we wouldn’t normally make,” said art teacher Ms. Miranda Best.  “It’s a way to make a particularly rich and meaningful experience for students.  Grants create memorable experiences for both students and staff.  Everyone looks forward to working with visiting artists.”

The grant awarded to the art department will provide funding for a project exploring personal and cultural history as well as various guest speakers, including a literary specialist and an artist who lived through the Holocaust.   Four Studio in Art classes and two Drawing and Painting classes will participate in the project.

“Students will develop a piece that builds on investigation of a family artifact. The art experience is building on the family stories and interviews,” said Ms. Best.

The grant selection process normally begins in January, led by a PWEF grant evaluation committee composed of teachers, parents, and interested members of the community.  Requests are reviewed by taking budget and impact into account, and are eventually presented to the entire PWEF board.

“The committee wants grants that will be sustainable over many years.” said Mr. Pernick.

Grants provide memorable experiences for both students and staff that could not otherwise be funded, especially in today’s economic circumstances.  Unlike other school districts, Port Washington has its own grant foundation to help finance school programs.

“I think grants are a terrific, untapped source of funds for education, since budgets are being cut,” said ESL teacher Ms. Susan Goldstein.  “If educators can search out grants that will help students, it can help balance out where the budget is cut.”

Grants provide an opportunity to infuse classrooms with technology, but implementation of this new equipment is another issue.

“I think that SMART boards definitely enhance the classroom experience with regard to the integration of digital media into the lesson, but I think that the technical issues associated with it hamper the overall experience. The only real difference between it and a projector on a whiteboard is that you can scroll. Otherwise, I think they’re a bit unwieldy and a waste of taxpayer dollars,” said senior Benjamin Lerner.

“SMART boards are only as smart as the teacher is,” said senior Michael Kuan. “Many teachers have SMART boards but cannot use them efficiently, which wastes time and causes frustration.”