PWEF grants new learning opportunities

Madeline Fagen, Assistant News Editor

Administrators gathered in the Schreiber Black Box Theater on Thursday, Oct. 17, for the unveiling of this year’s Port Washington Education Foundation Grants.  A total of 30 grants were awarded to Port Washington teachers and students; nine grants went to Schreiber.

“All the grants directly impact students in a positive way because they allow us to bring in programs, expand programs, or, in the case of the new TV studio, start something from scratch,” said Principal Mr. Ira Pernick.

PWEF grants are given to make a difference in the educational experience of Port Washington’s students by raising money for specific projects within the district.

“The awards are for projects that reflect the talents, creativity and diversity of the Port Washington School community,” said Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney.  “They will provide the students with enriching educational opportunities that may not have been otherwise funded by the district due to budget constraints.  They are initiatives that go beyond basic educational requirements.”

PWEF grants have been extremely successful in the past, donating $700,000 in grant money to schools.

“We are so fortunate that the PWEF works for innovative programs; programs that benefit the student curriculum and allow the teachers to be creative in their respective fields,” said art teacher and grant recipient Ms. Marisa DeMarco.  “The teachers can take their students beyond the traditional curriculum and allow them to do things they wouldn’t usually be able to do.  We really get to work on a variety of media, whether it’s mathematics, technology, or art.  The PWEF celebrates quality academics by being so generous in distribution of the money.”

There is an extensive process behind applying for a grant.  A grant application is distributed to the entire district by the first week of January.  If students want to apply for a grant, they have the opportunity to explain their potential projects and the motivations behind them.

“Teachers, principals, parent groups, parents, and students are all encouraged to apply for any project they feel would offer students exciting new learning experiences that fit our mission,” said PWEF board member Ms. Mara Silverstein

Additionally, at the beginning of each school year PWEF board members meet with administrators to discuss the current curriculum and get an idea of what types of projects may be beneficial to the district.  They meet with school staff to talk about the application process and answer any questions.

“The application is usually due mid April and we have an evaluation committee made up of seven of our board members that review each project and application,” said Ms. Silverstein.  “We take a couple of weeks to review and follow up if we have any questions and then the committee presents their recommendations to the board of the PWEF to be voted on.  All applicants are notified by the end of the school year [about whether or not their program will receive a grant for the next school year].”

This year’s grants range from a genetic screening tool, to a new TV studio and broadcasting program, to support for various subject areas including the technology and art departments.

One of the grants awarded to Schreiber’s art department collaborates with the Great Neck Arts Center.  Drawing And Painting students are taught how to conduct oral investigations of their family’s history.

“I am excited about the work that Ms. Best, Ms. Hall, and Mr. Koch are doing,” said DeMarco.  ”Our project entitled ‘Around The Table’ will afford students the ability to find inspiration from personal family narratives and develop personalized dinnerware vessels in which they’ll paint, draw, and design through the guidance of a ceramics specialist/public works artist, Jude Amsel, over a series of four workshops.  This is a new generation of projects and we really appreciate the generosity of the PWEF and the Port Washington School District to bring such quality programming to our young artists!”

Grants have also been awarded to students, allowing them to pursue their personal visions for the school community.

“Students can take their ideas and turn them into reality. “Without funding from the PWEF, they couldn’t do this,” said junior Vincent Deriu.  “I am particularly excited about the grant that I will be receiving which will promote environmental learning at the Guggenheim preserve by putting signs throughout it.”

“These grants are important because they support the District’s efforts to expand horizons and fulfill dreams by cultivating a variety of learning experiences,” said Dr. Mooney.  “The PWEF works in true partnership with the district to achieve its mission of making a difference in the educational lives of Port Washington students.”