New Egypt school staff earns two NJEA grants

New Egypt school staff
earns two NJEA grants

PLUMSTED — With the financial support of the New Jersey Education Association and its members, 11 grants totaling $53,919 have been awarded to educators in school districts across the state. Two of those grants have been awarded to programs being offered in Plumsted Township schools.

Established in 1993, the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence In Education is dedicated to supporting projects that will enhance and improve the learning environment. Since its creation, the foundation has awarded more than $732,000 in support of 181 innovative educational projects that represent a bold, fresh approach by school employees.

PIE: Puppets in Education

"Turn off that TV! Stop playing those video games!" Now there are two comments heard over and over in today’s homes. Based on the premise that there are viable entertainment alternatives to the monotony of TV and video games, eight teachers at the New Egypt Elementary School created PIE: Puppets in Education, a project that uses puppets, drama and communication with students in a Mexican school to broaden their students’ view of the world, encourage their use of imagination and creativity, and provide them with a positive outlet for self-expression.

Led by project coordinator Scott Jacobs, Bonnie Vella, Lisa Rajeski, Karen Brown, Jennifer Chiariello, Marney Hatch, Jennifer Gerber and Rita Williams submitted their project to the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education and received a $9,960 grant for the upcoming school year. This is Jacobs’ second grant from the Hipp Foundation.

Through PIE, 150 students and their families, more than 400 in total, will increase their reading, writing and vocabulary skills in English and Spanish as they read, summarize, and retell folk tales in both languages. Through e-mails to Mexican students, they will learn about Mexican culture, the country and its litera­ture.

In addition, students will learn the ele­ments of design and form in art classes as they make puppets, scenery and props for family night performances at a spring open house.

Professional support from a special ef­fects artist with puppet making experience on Broadway, television and in movie pro­ductions will help students create stick, hand and marionette puppets, according to a press release from the NJEA.

Through their language arts classes stu­dents will create plays based on stories and books read during the year. Students will learn more about the dramatic use of pup­pets when a professional puppet company visits the school.

The program’s elements will be shared with all K-5 teachers through an in-service program provided for all staff.

REALIFE — Realistic Education and Learning in a Fun Environment

As the world becomes smaller, children living in small rural communities need more opportunities to learn about and ac­cept differences and commonalities they hold with others.

Donna Buxton, Joe Romana and Kathy LoPresti, teachers at New Egypt Elementary School, created REALIFE. — Realistic Education and Learning in a Fun Environment — to help special needs students to discover and enhance their strengths in a fun-filled educational envi­ronment.This project, funded through a $9,980 grant from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education and Verizon will create an awareness that each child is a productive and integral part of the community. The program allows students with a variety of abilities and dis­abilities opportunities to explore friend­ships and a sense of belonging with fami­lies and their community.

Students will develop and improve so­cialization skills through travel in the community and participation in a weekly Friendship Club. Through an "Evening of Caring," working with family and com­munity members, students complete a cre­ative service learning project demonstrat­ing their ability to help others. A commu­nity "Diversity Day" will help students in­crease their knowledge of commonalities and help them embrace differences among people.

Through travel/community-based in­struction, creative arts, and food/cooking skills students will "hit the road" after practicing money handling and purchasing skills in class. Activities will include:

• Writing and speaking about their trav­els and the photos taken;

• Learning about table setting, reading recipes, using utensils and making simple foods;

• Dancing, singing, and arts and crafts will provide opportunities for self-expres­sion.

In-kind contributions are in place from a neighborhood restaurant, staff members who have donated appliances and cook­books, janitorial staff who set up the pro­gram space and the district’s transportation department.