Contact: Jessica Hickman Schneider, Executive Director, Norristown Area Education Foundation

    484.690.3662 or director@norristownaef.org


    Norristown, PA – March 14, 2014 – The Norristown Area Education Foundation is pleased to announce that six Teacher Mini Grants were awarded to  Norristown Area School District teachers for the Spring 2014 grant cycle. These mini grants are awarded for projects that are innovative and unique, utilizing “outside the box” techniques to teach valuable skills and concepts to students in the District. Each grant was a generous gift of $500 toward each project.


    “NAEF is pleased to support the hard work of our dedicated teachers,” said Thomas J. Grasso, Jr., President of the Board of Directors of the Norristown Area Education Foundation. “Meeting the students and teachers who are carrying out these exciting projects is one of the best parts of being involved with the Foundation.”


    Two grants were awarded to teachers at Marshall Street Elementary School. Michele Andrews and Joseph E. Leaf were awarded a grant for their project “Accelerating Academic English.” The project plans to provide acceleration of academic English through a series of both in-school and after-school sessions using a content area picture dictionary approach geared toward helping students whose primary language is not English. Parents will be invited to participate to learn how to help tutor their students at home via the program resources. Donna Freeman won a grant for her project “I think, therefore I am, and therefore I write.” Ms. Freeman’s students will examine the life and writings of Thomas Jefferson to evaluate how a ‘monumental figure can have monumental flaws’. Through his writings, his biography, and a guest speaker, students will make connections to Jefferson’s use of the “Habits of Mind”. Ultimately, this will provide students with opportunities to engage them in the thoughtful andreflective process of writers.
    Jefferson  Joe Leaf


    Ms. Barbara S. Weikert at Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy received $500 for her idea “From Trinidad to Norristown: Steel Drumming.” Students will learn about the history of the steel drum and learn to play a basic song on the instrument in the same style originally used to teach beginning pan players in Trinidad in the late 20th century. Students will have the opportunity to perform on the steel pan for ESTLA’s spring concert and other community events. In addition, students will learn to properly care for the instrument, discover how to perform on the instrument, and learn about new genres of music. Of course, this is only the beginning! Students could use the instrument to create their own compositions and sound stories with the steel drum while improving their own performance etiquette.


    At Stewart Middle School, Cheryl Brumbaugh, RN, was awarded a Teacher Mini Grant for ongoing support of the “Stewart Garden,” a project that NAEF helped start.  The Stewart Garden grows plants, flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits. Students start the plants from seeds in January and continue through the fall with harvesting their own grown produce. The students taste test everything that they grow and use the vegetables to prepare dishes in an after school program.  For some students, this may be the first time trying a different type of vegetable or herb.  For the many students who do not have the space for a garden at home, this is an opportunity for them to experiment and learn how to care for and produce food.  They see the results of the ground to table theme right before their eyes.  It is exciting to see their interest and excitement of seeing a vegetable grow from a plant they have personally cared for!


    Ms. Christy Gartner’s project, “Homegrown Authors,” was also chosen as a Teacher Mini Grant recipient this round. Her students will create, write, and assemble their own books written for students! Students will work to create fictional and expository stories to publish during both enrichment time and after school. A book plate on the inside cover will identify the student(s) as author/illustrator. Ms. Gartner hopes to include their published pieces in the library at East Norriton Middle School so other students can check them out like a regular library book.  When they move to the high school, she will return the books to the authors as a reminder of their time at East Norriton Middle School. 
    East Norriton
    At the Roosevelt Campus of NAHS, Ms. Jackie Harris was awarded the sixth Teacher Mini Grant for her innovative project, “Ingenuity, Creativity and Survival in the Quest for Freedom.” Roosevelt Campus students will be studying various topics during Black History Month as well as Women’s History Month. Students will focus on the Underground Railroad, the role of quilt-making by African American women during the corresponding time-frame, the role of “codes” not found in dominant culture(s) and the risks involved to the African Americans seeking freedom. Students will create a quilt that represents the Roosevelt Campus and showcases the various advocacies, student groups and activities. This project will equip students with a prerequisite knowledge of some of the events that took place in American History during their upcoming trip to the African American History Museum in Philadelphia.


    NAEF wishes hearty congratulations to all the winners and encourages more teachers to submitTeacher Mini Grant proposals for the Foundation to consider!


    The Norristown Area Education Foundation provides independent financial funding to support challenging and enriching innovations that will maximize the learning potential of all students in the Norristown Area School District. NAEF raises money to fund innovative programs throughout the Norristown Area School District, like robotics, SMART Boards, and a Mac Lab and other projects and programs. The Foundation also administers a mini grants program for teachers throughout the District.


    For more information on the Norristown Area Education Foundation, please visit their website at www.norristownaef.org or call 484.690.3662.