Monday, February 5, 2018


$20,000 in Grants Awarded Across Manchester Essex School District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (January 17, 2018)  - - Spaulding Education Fund (SEF), a non-profit committed to advancing educational excellence in the Manchester-Essex regional schools for close to 30 years, is pleased to announce it has awarded $20,000 in grants for its 2017 Fall/Winter grant cycle. Successful grant recipients have created exciting initiatives and found innovative materials to offer unique opportunities that advance, enrich and enliven the classroom experience. Grants were awarded to applicants throughout the district and across all age levels.  To follow is a summary of the Spaulding Education Fund Fall/Winter 2017 grants:

Composer in Residence: Under the direction of the award-winning composer Demetrius Spaneas, Essex Elementary School fifth-grade students will learn how to compose music with the goal for each student to complete an original composition by the end of the residency.  In addition to an introduction to music writing software, students will learn to utilize and combine the basic concepts of melodic contour, simple harmonic progression and rhythmic continuity in their own compositions. 

Engineering Component for Math Explorers and Problem Solvers Program:  MEAPS is an innovative pilot program recently launched at Memorial Elementary School that encourage students, grades 2 to 5, who have an interest and passion in mathematics and technology/engineering to work on flexible, collaborative problem-solving projects.  This grant will purchase supplemental materials, which will expand the scope of the projects to include more advanced engineering concepts.  Last year, over 130 children participated in MEAPS.

Chromebooks for Middle School Robotics:  Robotics will be incorporated into the Middle School Engineering curriculum with the addition of six Chromebooks to the classroom.  With robotics and engineering design being taught over the course of 4-6 weeks, all middle school students will have the opportunity to design, build and program robots to solve real-world problems, evaluate their own work and generate solutions. In response to the grant’s approval, MS Principal Joanne Maino said,  “Thank you SEF.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to be principal of this wonderful school – much of it is thanks to the incredible support we receive from our community of dedicated parents.”

Middle School Academy Digital Classroom Equipment: Middle School Academy is a new 6th grade class at MERMS with the goal to build academic, social, and digital literacy skills through project-based learning. Technology will be purchased to support this innovative class including iPad minis and cases, green screens, and microphones. MSA teacher Vidula Plante shared, “Adding 21st-century technology will support students’ imaginations and build their digital skills as they work together to troubleshoot problems and produce new content that follows an idea from its inception to its finished product.”

Biotechnology in all Classrooms:  All levels of High School biology are currently incorporating biotechnology into the curriculum and to support the increased volume of biology students and the number of inquiry-based labs, the Science Department will purchase six electrophoresis chambers. This cutting-edge technology allows students to identify properties of DNA, explore GMO presence in foods, identify DNA from crime scenes and so much more.  HS Science Department Chair Kristi Umilie explained that, “Thanks to the Spaulding Education Fund, we are able to provide our students opportunities for real-world science experiences and skill development.”

The Anatomy in Clay: The High School Science Department will purchase and implement this hands-on system to support the growing interest in Anatomy and Physiology courses. The program, which aligns with progressive trends in education, provides differentiated instruction to effectively reach a wide variety of learning styles. “I believe that providing engaging activities in any science class is the key to student learning.  This system is a comprehensive, hands-on option for students to learn the difficult subject of Anatomy,” stated HS Science Teacher Maria Lonnett Burgess.

MERHS Robotics Team: SEF is pleased to continue to support the MERHS Robotics Team known as “Robots-by-the-Sea” which provides students unique hands-on experience through the applied STEM.  Students work intensely to design and build robots for competitions throughout the region, which also fosters teamwork and a commitment to excellence among the students. This past spring the team won their division at the World Championship: Tesla Division Finals.

As the organization’s Annual Appeal comes to close, SEF would like to express its sincere thanks to the many members of the community who continue to generously support the district’s education fund.  It is only with their support that we can fund this many projects and the kind of rich learning that our students experience.  SEF is a group of parent volunteers who focus on the mission to assure excellence in the Manchester Essex Public Schools by funding programs and resources that open doors to innovative curriculum-based learning.  To learn how you can get involved or about the organization upcoming Annual Winter Beach Bash Benefit on Friday, April 6, please go to    

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