2007-2008 Grant Allocations


Scott McGinley, Teacher

Enhancing existing year-old elementary school garden that provides a multidimensional outdoor educational environment for Mark’s Meadow students. Funds will be for gardening supplies, tools, curricula-related materials and literature. Four season, open air extension of classroom multidisciplinary learning. Connects with families, farmers, gardeners and scientists in Local business community and academic institutions.

2. AIMS (Academic & Other Initiatives for Maximum Success)

Desiree P. Lalbeharie-Josias/ Shirley Whittaker

Community-based organization created and coordinated by parents with children in the Amherst School system committed to supporting the success of African heritage children and youth (African American, Black, Bi-racial) using a three-pronged approach: 1. Academic programming that provides math enrichment as well as scheduled workshops in the areas of science and literacy; 2. Broadening interaction among youth and adult role models of African heritage through fun and inspirational activities; and 3. Community engagement. In the spirit of “it takes a village to raise a child,” AIMS organizes a variety of community-building social events.


Julie Rypysc (Crocker Farm Intervention Teacher)

Will offer communication skill workshops to parents at each of the nine area schools (Amherst, Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett), a six-session course for at least 10 teachers, a one-day advanced workshop for at least 15 teachers, and support for 3-5 teachers who will implement model classrooms based on Non-violent Communication principles. The Amherst Area Nonviolent Communication Committee seeks to help parents, students and school personnel connect deeply to their own and others’ feelings and needs, resulting in improved quality of connect ion, greater sense of cooperation and mutuality, and more effective conflict resolution NVC Committee includes, Julie Rypysc, Intervention Teacher at Crocker Farm; Michael Silverstone, Second Grade Teacher at Wildwood; Laurie Rabut, Music Teacher at Mark’s Meadow, Fort River, Pelham and Wildwood Schools; and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, parent of two children at Wildwood and Co-Founder of the Institute for Peaceable Communities and Director of its Communicating with Compassion Project.


Wendy Kohler, ARHS

Part of continuing projects focusing on issues of equity and student achievement. This project is an innovation that will provide portable desk space, including a variety of critical desk organizers and tools for low-income students whose homes offer no desk or study space. Desks will be designed by ARHS students. Other items included are: bulletin boards, organizers, calendar planners, calculators and dictionaries.


(Patricia Cahill, Science Coordinator and Rebecca Fricke, Parent)

Will write and pilot a kindergarten science unit based on the most current view of best science learning and teaching practices as well as on “Understanding by Design” principles (Wiggins and McTighe, 1998). After piloting the unit in two classrooms, lessons will be revised as needed. Five sets of materials needed to teach the unit will be assembled for each Amherst and Pelham elementary school. A workshop will be conducted in September 2007 to present the unit to kindergarten teachers.


Marta Leve & Eileen Madison, Crocker Farm

For a series of three monthly meetings for Latino families to be held in the evening at Crocker Farm. Families will share food and songs. Parents will meet for discussion of a topic and book while children are led through related activities. Aims to provide parents with validation and support for their role as their children’s first teacher; to provide families with shared literacy experiences in their own mother tongue; and to provide parents with a positive, welcoming experience at their child’s school. Involves Pre K-6.


Joanna Morse, Teacher and Annie Leonard, Admin., ARHS

An after school Khmer language and culture class initiated by 30 Khmer-American high school students who have begun attending a class already this year. Students will engage in service to their community at the Khmer temple in Leverett, which will in turn help give them access to their elders whom they want to interview for a documentary video project.


Sherry Balzano, Student Activities Director, ARHS

Aimed at providing 9th, 10th, and 11th grade females eligible for the free and reduced lunch program with opportunities to meet, interact with, and learn from successful women within our region. Students will be given the chance to observe women in the workplace, attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women
and participate in a series of lectures aimed at developing their career and growth aspirations.


Mari Vicente, Guidance Counselor, ARMS

For the Middle School club whose mission is to foster a sense of pride and visibility for students of Latin American heritage. The club wishes to acquire all the flags representing 20 Latin American countries and Spain (21total), They already own five flags and will use the funds to purchase the remaining sixteen. Purpose is to display the flags during activities organized by the club for the education of the whole student body.


Nunia Mafi, Teacher, ARHS

For the past five years a team of ARHS students have participated in the Minority Student Achievement Network conferences that have taken place at members’ schools in various parts of the country. These conferences provide a unique opportunity for student leaders to network with peers from high schools around the country to engage in discussions about the Achievement Gap, as well as devising action plans on how to improve the effectiveness of their schools in educating African American and Latino students. Students are also exposed to the teaching of amazing scholars such as Cornell West, Theresa Perry, Dr. Charles Ogletree, Erin Gruwell and Jaime Almanzan.

11. CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN: Bridging Two Cultures

Seiha Krouch, Teacher, Fort River School

Help to bridge the Cambodian and American cultures through the activities of the Fort River Cambodian Culture Class. Every year the Cambodian Culture Class prepares and presents to the Fort River community a New Year’s performance. This project will get authentic costumes and masks to stage the performance. It will also help these students learn more about American culture by helping them partake in some American events such as attending a sports event at ARHS or ARMS; touring the UMASS campus/library; and taking local field trips.


Diane Travis, Art Teacher

Continues project begun last year enhancing the pillars in front of the school with individual tiles made by students, teachers, staff and parents that reflect the rich diversity of the school
community. The theme is “Growing and Learning Together.” The project beautifies the school and brings all levels of the community together.


Rob Okun, Men’s Resource Center for Change

Group established in 2000 to provide support, mentorship, dialogue and most recently leadership opportunities for Amherst youth. Participants have primarily been students of the ABC program. As of 2007 the directors and facilitators of the YMCL have reaffirmed commitment to expand the participation beyond ABC to a broader population of Amherst youth of color. Funding would be to provide stipends to
YMCL participants.

Total $19,562