Major Grants

Maker Spaces at all Six Schools

A coordinated team of teachers, parents, students, and administrators, led by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steven Garcia, Director of Technology Mr. Michael Tromblee, and Director of Math & Science Dr. Thomas Callahan, have been working over the past year on one of the biggest grants the PEF has ever considered. After careful consideration and much discussion, the PEF has awarded a grant of almost $200,000 to create MakerSpaces in each of the six Pelham schools. The Maker Movement is about innovation, collaboration, experimenting, tinkering; using materials to create products and solve problems, individually and within teams. Because students are “making”, the traditional silos of different subjects break down and the experience is interdisciplinary. Each school will have a dedicated space, and the Grant involves everything from furnishings to supplies and equipment. All spaces will have low to high tech resources. Legos, craft and art supplies, computers, green screens, and 3D printers will be dedicated at each MakerSpace.


The Pelham Education Foundation (PEF) recently approved a sizable grant to replace basses and cellos for use by Pelham Middle School students as part of its ongoing mission to enrich curriculum and provide funding for special equipment. Typically larger instruments, such as a basses or cellos, remain at the school while students have their own instrument for at-home practice. The grant to replace the Middle School's instruments complements PEF's recent grant to replace the High School's larger, full-sized basses and cellos. Middle schoolers require instruments typically at 1/2 size and had been practicing with instruments that had lost their best sound quality and function and which were, in many cases, too large. The instruments had holes, cracks and battered bodies producing poor sound quality and were in use for nearly 30 years.

The inferior instruments understandably affected student moral as well as performance quality. To protect the new instruments, a storage room was arranged in the High School by Mrs. Clark and ongoing maintenance of the basses and cellos will be provided as well. For instruction purposes, educators at the Middle and High schools could not be more pleased to eliminate the distraction of instruments of lesser quality and poor sound and the Pelham Eduction Foundation could not be more pleased to enhance the thriving orchestral programs in Pelham schools.

Mindfulness Project

To help integrate Mindfulness into Pelham schools, the Pelham Education Foundation recently approved a large grant to bring the School Yoga Project—a company with experience in a school setting—to the district. Similar programs have been implemented in neighboring schools such as Bronxville, Larchmont and White Plains. Studies show that mindfulness increases students’ self-awareness and respect for self and others, teaches emotional behavioral regulation, and helps students achieve balance and reduce anxiety. The program is meant to help students learn to cope with distress, emotion regulation and stress management.

The plan includes a three-year timeline with a gradual introduction of Mindfulness training across the district, starting with grades 1, 3 and 7 in the first year, along with K-8 staff training. There will also be parent workshops where School Yoga Project professionals can educate parents about the initiative, as well as present strategies that can be used at home.

Differentiated Learning project-Tomlinson

Differentiated Learning Project The PEF in collaboration with the district helped fund professional development for the faculty in the area of differentiation, a method to ensure that teachers can address the needs of and motivate students at all levels. The training sessions were conducted by Carol Tomlinson, who is best known for her innovative work with techniques of differentiation in education. Ms. Tomlinson also conducted an evening session for parents on the topic.

Author Visits for Elementary Students

Popular children's authors were brought into every elementary school to meet with all K-5 students district-wide. These visits offered a unique opportunity to breathe life and relevance into classroom reading and writing experiences.. The structure of the visits was relatively consistent from kindergarten through fifth grade. Each session was a mini-lesson followed by a workshop of guided practice conferring and sharing with the author.

Classroom libraries and reading & writing resources

The K-5 teachers were able to purchase specific resources for their classrooms to implement the reading and writing curriculum. Specifically, the resources were mentor texts (individual titles, picture books, series books, and chapter books) to use to model specific skills/strategies for the students and to add to their classroom libraries. The acquisition of these books allows the teachers to have the resources for what is being taught within the unit available for all students.

Literacy Kits

Resources were purchased for the elementary reading and resource room teachers to use with their students. These research based materials allow a way to support the most vulnerable struggling readers in the district. The district already owned two kits but there was a need to supplement them to help students who receive resource room or building-level support in both reading and writing. The grant allowed the district to purchase four more kits to be shared among the elementary schools.

Science Lab Enhancements

The College Board recently changed the curriculums for AP Physics, Chemistry and Biology dramatically increasing the expected laboratory activities. Over time, lab group size has grown from 2 or 3 students to 6 or 7 students, decreasing the quality of the lab experience in these classes. This grant has enhanced the experience of students in AP science classes by purchasing equipment to run smaller group laboratory activities. The equipment included microscopes, spectrophotometers, laptops, and high precision scales.


Thanks to the grant from the Pelham Education Foundation and a grant facilitated by Senator Jeff Klein, the Pelham School District was able to secure one Chromebook for each student in the 8th and 9th grades for the 2014/2015 school year and to use in subsequent years. The grant also included training for faculty on The Google Apps for Education platform in order to allow teachers to integrate the technology into their lesson plans.

Musical Instruments

Music teachers, parents and student-musicians from all the Pelham schools are already benefitting from the first phase of a three-year major grant of musical instruments for band and orchestra. This grant will provide string, percussion and brass instruments, music stands, string instrument storage, a conductor’s system and a piano (with a cover and dolly) to the bands and orchestras at all levels. The goal of the project is to develop students as artist-musicians and critical listeners through the use of quality instruments.

Following the receipt and integration into the orchestra of new string instruments, one orchestra student commented, “We sound better because there are more instruments of a better quality, and more students are able to play together at one time.” Dr. Michele Zanky, Director of the High School and Middle School Orchestras, said, “The Orchestra received a rating of Excellence at NYSSMA Majors this year. Students have a new sense of pride and dedication in the Orchestra. Seniors reminisce about their first year in Orchestra compared to now. None of this progress would have occurred without the Pelham Education Foundation’s largesse.”

Upon the gift of a new baritone saxophone for the High School band, Band Director Mr. Campbell Whitford commented, “The new “bari” plays almost effortlessly, allowing the player to concentrate on more important musical issues, such as balance, technique, intonation, and musicianship.”

Ipads & Netbooks

Students in all schools in grades K-8 will soon enjoy new hands-on tools by virtue of a major grant of iPads and Netbook computers. In addition, the Foundation has already provided all schools with Smart Response “clickers.” Each elementary school received 30 iPads and a syncing cart, and the Middle School received 30 Netbook computers and a mobile cart.

The iPad, selected after reviewing best practices because it takes multiple technology tools and integrates them into one platform, can be used as an e-reader, internet browser, research tool, word processor, camera, video recorder and presentation tool affording teachers and students increased flexibility.

Teachers have been trained to use a multitude of “apps” in all subject areas to differentiate instruction, providing enrichment as well as help for students with special needs. The iPad is also a tool that teachers can use to implement and monitor assessments. Second grade teacher Beth Finkelstein noted, “The iPads are a great accessible tool to use when working with a small group of students on skills specific to address their needs. There are apps to focus on reading fluency and comprehension, handwriting, spelling, counting money and practicing math facts and tons more! There are also great writing apps, such as Toontastic, that is a motivating and easy to use writing program that allows students to create stories, including scenes, characters, audio and animation. I am excited to have the iPads available as a great technology tool that allows us to target skills and motivate and reach students in a new way.”

The Netbook computers donated to the Middle School were chosen for their durability and will allow teachers to bring the educational benefits of a computer lab into the classroom. The hand held Smart Response clickers quickly engage students while allowing teachers to easily assess student understanding and instruction knowledge during instruction.

Guidance and Counseling Department Enhancements

Eugene Farrell, the Director of Guidance, attended a national conference to learn the latest admissions requirements, policies and procedures as well as to gain exposure to national issues and external influences in admissions. One of the counselors visited three North Carolina colleges to develop relationships with admissions officers, to learn about potential choices for students, and to extend Pelham’s geographical reach beyond the Northeast region.

During a Spring 2012 PMHS faculty meeting, an admissions officer from Barnard College instructed teachers in the act of writing college recommendations for students. Another consultant from Barnard worked with English teachers to help students write better essays for their college applications.
The Foundation provided the guidance department a SMART Board so that visiting college officers can easily present to groups of students. The department is also updating the college research software, Naviance, used by counselors and students.

Finally, the Foundation sent a counselor and group of students to Camp College to promote access to higher education to students traditionally underrepresented on college campuses.

Professional Development for Art Faculty

In March 2012, several members of the art department attended the National Art Education Association Convention in New York City. This staff development opportunity included workshops, exhibit halls with art vendors, lectures with art educators and researchers, and networking sessions. It was a hands-on and efficient way for the art teachers to learn about current best practices, new materials and techniques.

Student Fitness

Students at Hutchinson Elementary School can now improve their flexibility and stamina while having fun climbing on the traverse climbing wall provided by the Foundation. The wall is an extension of the fitness program that allows physical education teachers to work on muscle development and endurance as well as general physical coordination.

In addition, teachers can now track the progress of students in all the elementary schools and middle school via the Fitness Gram program which includes a variety of health related physical fitness tests to assess aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility. Each physical education teacher is able to track students’ progress using iPads provided by the Foundation that are loaded with a software package that is consistent throughout the elementary and middle school grades. The primary goal of the program is to articulate the elementary and secondary school PE programs. The use of the Fitness Gram package allows teacher to help students meet the PE learning standards. Students will carry their fitness profiles as they move from elementary to middle school.

Secondary Visual Arts Programs

The Foundation approved grants to improve instruction in visual arts at the secondary level which led to significant classroom enhancements during the summer months.  Two Middle School classrooms were transformed to create age-appropriate environments in which students can research, create, view and critique works of art in a gallery-like setting.  The new classroom settings foster self-directed learning by providing art books, magazines and DVDs, as well as art stations where students can make art of their choice when they finish a class project early.  The new gallery area allows teachers to display student art and enables classes to discuss techniques and give feedback in order to achieve mastery over various materials.

At the High School, a grant was made to extend work accomplished by prior Foundation grants.  The growing popularity of the Art of Photography course launched using a 2008 Foundation grant required the purchase of additional digital cameras and a photographic printer, as well as new photography textbooks.  In addition, the grant provided digital cameras for the advanced art classes; a laptop cart, 15 laptop computers and two color laser printers to be shared by all PMHS art classes; and the creation of gallery space similar to that provided in the Middle School classrooms.

21st Century Teaching and Learning Tools

The Foundation made grants to the school district to fund the second phase of its multi-year “21st Century Teaching and Learning Tools” initiative. The tools include “classroom kits” composed of a SMART Board (an interactive whiteboard), a document camera (a device for displaying objects to a large group) and a laptop computer for the teacher. These high priority 21st century learning tools are now installed in every general purpose classroom K-12 through a collaborative effort between the Foundation and the school district.

The Foundation funded the purchase of classroom kits and a cart of laptop computers for the three secondary art classrooms. A second donation funded 21st century tools for 10 elementary art, music and general purpose classrooms, one classroom and the library in the Middle School, and five High School classrooms.

Technology Professional Development

In order to ensure that all teachers would have the skills to use 21st century teaching tools effectively, the Foundation supported the rapid infusion of new technologies by providing an intensive summer technology workshop. The workshop prepared 14 teachers, representing all disciplines and grade levels, to act as technology coaches for the next school year. Working with their colleagues in regularly scheduled, mandatory professional development meetings, the coaches will train teachers to use technology tools to differentiate instruction, assess learning throughout lessons, and better engage students in analysis, critical thinking and knowledge creation.

Middle School Global Simulation

A Foundation grant funded a global simulation workshop that afforded seventh-grade students the opportunity to experience the challenges of negotiation and problem solving in an interdependent world. Students were assigned to teams representing regional governments, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations and the media. They faced challenges in economic and political development and learned about the impact of factors such as financial resources, technology, education, environmental concerns, human rights issues and public perception in working toward goals and averting crises.

Middle School Guitar Program

The Foundation granted a class set of guitars, music and storage racks enabling the sixth grade music teachers to add an applied music experience to the general music curriculum. Each student will study guitar for six to eight weeks, learning to read notation and play basic chords.


The Foundation and the school district, with the sponsorship of TD Bank, co-hosted a family-oriented Exploratorium. The event provided hands-on activities showcasing new teaching tools and techniques in language arts, math, social studies, science, visual and performing arts and physical education. In addition to workshops and drop-in zones for elementary school students, the evening featured guided tours and visits to some of the district’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the Foundation-funded foreign language lab, broadcast production studio, fitness center and science research lab.

Supporting New Electives at High School

A grant funded the purchase of materials required for hands-on experiences in the new Principles of Engineering course, which introduces students to basic engineering concepts and demonstates the natural integration of math, science and technology.

Several grants also provided materials for new electives in the visual and performing arts.  Art reference books and DVDs were provided for Advanced Placement Art History.  A grant for the Jewelry and Metalsmithing course funded the purchase of materials for advanced techniques such as enameling and casting.  The Art of Photography course received digital cameras and related materials.  Digital Music benefited from a grant for site licneses for the software used with digital keyboards.

Special Grants Using Targeted Donations

A gift of $3,500 from the Junior League of Pelham enabled the Foundation to purchase non-fiction titles for the Pelham Middle School Library.  Funds donated in memory of Joseph Stavola and Jeanne Serocke-Stavola funded $3,505 of equipment and materials for special education students.

Honors and Advanced Placement Preparation

The Foundation provided a grant to fund a pilot program during the summer of 2008 to increase opportunities for PMHS students to succeed in the School's most challenging courses.  Attended by 46 students, the two-week long Academics for Curriculum-based Excellence Seminar (ACES) program focused on improving reading comprehension, developing critical thinking skills, and preparing for both objective tests and written assessments.

ACES allows students who aspire to take Honors or AP level courses, but who do not meet existing criteria, to demonstrate their commitment to the higher level work while providing a foundation for success in the most academically rigourous courses.  It replaces an appeal process that allowed some students to access Honors and AP courses without meeting academic criteria, but provided no additional support.

Language Lab Expansion and Upgrade

The Foundation funded the purchase of technology equipment for a major upgrade and expansion of the language laboratory serving the Middle School and High School.  The grant allowed for the upgrade of equipment at 25 stations in the existing lab as well as the purchase of additional equipment for 30 new stations in an adjoining classroom.

The upgrade to the existing lab included adding a personal computer at every station with multimedia capabilities.  The digital equipment in the expanded lab now offers superior file storage, permits easy download by students and teachers to an MP3 player, and enables students to complete assignments on any home or school computer.

"The digital systems allow teachers to be so much more productive and students to spend more time actually speaking with each other in the target language."  Anne Marie Duignan, World Languages Department Chair

K-5 Guided Reading Leveled Libraries

The Pelham Education Foundation awarded a major grant to Pelham’s elementary schools to create Guided Reading Leveled Libraries.  Guided reading matches students to books that are “just right” and facilitates small group instruction in which students are grouped based on assessment.  This enables teachers to better meet the reading needs of all students, including English language learners, advanced readers and Special Education students.
Each elementary school is now furnished with a Benchmark Education K-5 BookRoom, which includes 2,736 texts; a wide range of teacher support tools; assessment materials; comprehension tools for teachers and students; and a system for organizing, storing and managing use of the texts.

Civil Rights Program at the Middle School

The Foundation sponsored a thought-provoking art installation and corresponding educational program at the middle school, presenting a visual and historical narrative of the 1970’s Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit was viewed by all middle school students, and the corresponding academic program was integrated within the 8th grade Social Studies curriculum, through varied learning activities and classroom instruction by the artist.
 “The Soles of the Movement program allowed our students to experience first hand how art and history can be brought together to educate and enlighten.” Thomas Tobin, 8th Grade teacher

Differentiated Instruction Program at the High School

In partnership with a private donor and the Special Education Department, the Foundation developed a multidimensional grant to strengthen the effectiveness of regular and special education instruction within high school inclusion classes.  Training, by on-site consultants and through Windward School’s summer workshop, helped teachers to develop co-teaching practices and to effectively differentiate instruction within their classrooms.

Broadcast Production Studio

A Foundation grant funded the creation of a state-of-the-art Broadcast Production Studio and the development of a new high school course in television production.  The course, now in its second year, provides students with an understanding of basic theory, techniques and procedures of television production, including pre-production planning, script and storyboard writing, taping and editing.
 “This type of hands-on and cooperative learning offers a welcome change from the more traditional classroom setting and facilitates teaching of both specific skills and broad concepts.”
Brian Powers, PMHSTeacher

Fitness Center at Middle & High Schools

The new fitness center at the middle and high schools (funded jointly by the Pelham Education Foundation and Shea Family Foundation) is now in its second year of use.   This fully-equipped aerobic and strength-building center accommodates classes of up to 35 students and has fostered an expansion of the physical education curricula to educate students in lifelong health and fitness practices.
 “The expanded Physical Education curriculum teaches our children how to build and maintain a healthy body.”  Susan Hughes, Dept. Chair, Physical Education


Guidance: Counselor training at Harvard University's Summer Institute for College; Teacher training in recommendation letter writing

Language Arts: Writer's Workshop, Picture Writing: Literacy Through Art and Image Making Within the Writing Process  pilot programs at all elementary schools

Foreign Language: State-of-the-Art Language Laboratory and Classroom Multimedia Network for middle and high school students

Science: A State-of-the-Art Molecular Biology Laboratory at PMHS

Technology: Technology centers in the elementary school libraries; Digital projectors and SMART Boards at the middle and high schools; Alpha Smart keyboards in elementary classrooms

Facilities: Lighting and sound renovation at Prospect Hill auditorium: Nature's Classroom at Hutchinson Elementary school

Every year the Foundation Board considers a range of possible grants presented by teachers, administrators, parents and BOE members. Ideas and initiatives can be submitted to the Foundation Board of Directors at anytime.